An Exploration of Comedy and Consent

While A Midsummer Night’s Dream is generally understood to be one of Shakespeare’s funniest comedies, it starts as a high-stakes drama about consent in a patriarchal culture. Hermia, a young woman, is not allowed to marry the partner of her choosing, while Queen Hippolyta comes to Athens as the conquered bride of war hero Theseus. Against this backdrop, fairies use magic to make mortals fall in and out of love - mostly for their own amusement.

Our takes on multiple scenes from the play will invite students to consider the role of consent throughout the play. When are the characters able to make their own choices, and when are they coerced by magic or law? What do they think Shakespeare was trying to say about the nature of human relationships and love?

Between takes, our multi-gender, multi-racial team of artists will share the reasons behind their directing, acting, and design choices, offer personal stories about their connection to the play, and share their favorite lines from the scenes.

The curriculum content will provide topics for discussion and written reflection such as:

  • Why are we still studying Shakespeare? How can these plays that are hundreds of years old have anything to do with the present moment?
  • Which character did you identify with in each scene? What made you connect to their experience?
  • What is the role of consent in the play? When do characters have agency and when has their agency been removed (magically or otherwise)?
  • How does the play balance between drama and comedy? What was funny to you, and why? What made you uneasy, and why?
Director - Akaina Ghosh*
Production Manager - Pratiksha Shah
Curriculum Developer -
Rebecca J . Ennals
Project Manager -
Ella Francis*
Performers - Bidalia Albanese, Ron Chapman, Danielle Ferrer, Carolina Morones, Chris Steele, Joshua Waterstone(*Resident Artist of SF Shakes)