A Midsummer Night’s Dream goes woke: Globe puts ‘misogyny and racism’ warning on Shakepeare classic

A Midsummer Night’s Dream goes woke: Globe puts ‘misogyny and racism’ warning on Shakepeare classic

A Midsummer Night’s Dream goes woke: Globe puts ‘misogyny and racism’ warning on Shakepeare classic

  • Shakespeare’s play A Midsummer Night’s Dream now comes with a ‘misogyny and racism’ warning for theatregoers at the historic Globe replica in London 
  • The comedy is set to run from April as part of the venue’s summer programme  

For the past 400 years, it has been performed countless times, particularly at the Globe.

But now the historic theatre has given Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream a ‘misogyny and racism’ warning.

The comedy, telling the tale of four rebellious lovers who get lost in a magical forest, is set to run from April as part of the venue’s summer programme.

But when theatregoers buy a ticket on the Globe’s website they are now confronted with a trigger warning for potentially sensitive themes in the 1590s play.

The website’s warning reads: ‘Content guidance: The play contains language of violence, sexual references, misogyny and racism.’ The online guidance ends with a plea to those concerned about its themes to contact the ticketing team for further details on the play’s content.

When theatregoers buy a ticket on the Globe’s website they are now confronted with a trigger warning for potentially sensitive themes in the 1590s play

The venue is a replica of the original Globe theatre, where Shakespeare’s plays were first seen, so is closely associated with the Bard.

A spokesman for the Globe told the Daily Telegraph: ‘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.’

The website’s warning comes after education experts at the theatre, which has links to Shakespeare, who intend to ‘decolonise’ Shakespeare’s work, also attacked the play for its misogyny.

A major comic plot line is King Oberon giving a love potion to Queen Titania so she falls for the ass-headed character Bottom.

But academics have claimed this is troubling because Titania is drugged, so she cannot consent.

Hailey Bachrach, the founder of the education project Shakespeare and Consent, said that this kind of plotline can ‘make Shakespeare problematic’.

Another ‘problematic’ plot line is Hermia fleeing Athens because she must choose between marrying against her will, or being executed or placed in a convent. Some academics say Shakespeare creates a ‘dark/light binary’ which casts dark or black as negative and white or fair as positive.

The Globe has sought to address the more troubling aspects of Shakespeare’s work with its Anti-Racist Shakespeare seminars.

In these seminars education experts have said the Bard’s language was ‘racialising’. For example, the first line of A Midsummer Night’s Dream is said to set out the racial divide clearly straight away: ‘Now, fair Hippolyta.’

Unlike Othello, which features a key non-white character, the play is not typically viewed as a ‘race play’ but experts believe racial slurs lie in the insults used by the play’s characters.

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Dolly Busby

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