The Daily Telegraph

Misogyny and racism alert in Midsummer Night’s Dream

- By Craig Simpson

WILLIAM SHAKESPEAR­E’S A Midsummer Night’s Dream contains “misogyny and racism”, the Globe has warned theatregoe­rs.

The 400-year-old comedy forms part of the venue’s summer programme and audiences are alerted to possibly upsetting content in the play which tells the tale of rebellious lovers eloping to a magical forest.

The content warning in online guidance also warns that the play, running from April, contains “sexual references” and the “language of violence”.

The inclusion of a warning on preview material for the play comes after education experts at the Globe in London highlighte­d examples of misogyny in the play, and as part of a series of “Anti-racist Shakespear­e” seminars intended to “decolonise” his work.

The comedy is not viewed as a “race play” like Othello, whose main character is a dark-skinned Moorish prince, but academics said during a seminar that the Bard’s work created a “dark/ light binary” that casts dark or black as negative and white, or “fair”, as positive.

This use of language was said to be “racialisin­g”, and the ethnic divide was evident from the first line of the play: “Now, fair Hippolyta.”

A spokesman for the Globe said: “Content guidance is written in advance of the creation of each production and based on what is present in the play. These will be updated as the production comes to life.”

From the inception of the Shakespear­e Globe Trust in 1970, it took 27 years for the Bard’s theatre to be reconstruc­ted faithfully to its original design. The Globe is now doing its best to make amends for this fealty by interpolat­ing every contempora­ry woke concern into its performanc­es. Recent production­s have included a bloodless Titus Andronicus, a non-binary Joan of Arc, and Princess Katherine of France having to pass a citizenshi­p test before being allowed to enter England in Henry V. Now A Midsummer Night’s Dream comes with a trigger warning – the play “contains language of violence, sexual references, misogyny and racism”. Perhaps the audience should also have been advised that it contains magic, spiked potions and trans-species love.

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