Printed booklet programme for A Midsummer Night's Dream

Printed booklet programme for A Midsummer Night's Dream

Herbert Beerbohm Tree's A Midsummer Night's Dream of 1900 was one of his most lavish productions. The scenery was spectacular: Theseus's palace had column after column, festooned with swags of flowers, stretching to the back of the stage, where the illusion continued into the backcloth in the Athenian woods, fronds and ferns sprouted and crawled over every inch of the stage. Opulent costumes designed by Percy Anderson completed the beautiful stage pictures created. To the cast required by Shakespeare's play, Tree added tens of extra fairies, played by children, as well as loosing real rabbits onto the stage for the woodland scenes. Tree himself took the comic role of Bottom the Weaver, while his wife Maud played the fairy queen Titania opposite Julia Neilson as Oberon. It wasn't unusual to have a female fairy king, so this wasn't one of Tree's alterations. The detailed notes in this souvenir booklet testify to the dedicated research Tree put into his productions. The illustration on the back cover is by Charles A Buchel, who painted several portraits of Tree.