Harley Granville-Barker Cast of “A Midsummer Night’s Dream”
Granville-Barker’s most controversial production, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, appeared in 1914 at the Savoy; this was to be his last production at the Savoy and after that Barker contented himself with writing about Shakespeare in his exceptional introductions to various plays. The critics were either hot or cold on this unyieldingly “modern” version of the play: the fairies were more like elves, Puck was dressed in scarlet, curtains lit in various colors served as the backdrop, English folk songs supplied the music; nothing looked the least bit traditional or, for that matter, real. After ninety-nine performances at the Savoy Barker moved the production in 1915 to New York and Wallack’s Theatre. A Midsummer Night’s Dream was no less shocking there than in London and the reviews were mixed. But no matter what the critics had to say, Granville-Barker had made an indelible mark on the Shakespearean tradition and the critics were fighting a battle already lost.
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