Publication Date


Document Type


First Advisor

Schaffer, Byron L., -1990

Degree Name

M.A. (Master of Arts)

Legacy Department

Department of Theatre Arts


Shakespeare; William; 1564-1616--Stage history Great Britain; Shakespeare; William; 1564-1616. Midsummer night's dream


This study examines the relationship between cultural trends of the mid-Victorian and late-Victorian periods in Britain and specific aspects of Charles Kean's production of A Midsummer Night1s Dream in 1856 and Beerbohm Tree's production of the same play in 1900. Though A Midsummer Night's Dream had been considered a box-office failure prior to Madame Vestris' production in 1840, impossible to perform successfully because of its incongruous and improbable subject matter, it became one of the most popular additions to Kean's and Tree's repertories. Because of the widespread popularity of these productions, they provide appropriate subjects for the study of how the theatre was significantly influenced by the cultural trends of its time in the nineteenth century. The study of cultural trends focuses primarily on the styles of art, architecture, music, dance, literature, dress, and theatrical production considered significant by cultural historians in a ten-year period prior to each production. The study of the productions is based primarily on promptbooks and available iconographic material plus contemporary reviews of the event. Kean's use of scenery, pageantry and special effects, and costumes reflects specific mid-Victorian trends in painting, architecture, dance, and dress. In addition, didacticism, respectability, and spectacle, the major objectives of all the mid- Victorian arts, are also principal objectives of Kean's production. Tree's use of scenery, special effects, and costumes also reflects specific late-Victorian trends in the arts and in dress. Furthermore, Tree's production reflects his consistent attempt to adhere to the major objectives of contemporary romantic-realistic art by providing careful attention to detail, to ornamentation, and to timeliness.


Includes bibliographical references.


vi, 154 pages




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