The Folger Shakespeare Library and our publishing partner, Simon & Schuster Audio, hope you enjoy these excerpts from our audio performance of Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream. This production was performed by the professional actors of Folger Theatre, in consultation with the editors of The Folger Shakespeare. The Folger Shakespeare A Midsummer Night’s Dream audiobook is available on a wide variety of audiobook platforms.
Act 1, scene 1
Theseus, duke of Athens, is planning the festivities for his upcoming wedding to the newly captured Amazon, Hippolyta. Egeus arrives with his daughter Hermia and her two suitors, Lysander (the man she wants to marry) and Demetrius (the man her father wants her to marry). Egeus demands that Theseus enforce Athenian law upon Hermia and execute her if she refuses to marry Demetrius. Theseus threatens Hermia with either lifelong chastity or death if she continues to disobey her father. Lysander and Hermia make plans to flee Athens. They reveal their plan to Helena, Hermia’s friend, who is in love with Demetrius. To win Demetrius’s favor, Helena decides to tell him about Lysander and Hermia’s planned elopement.
Act 2, scene 2
Oberon anoints Titania’s eyes as she sleeps. A weary Lysander and Hermia enter and fall asleep nearby. Robin, thinking he has found “the Athenian man,” anoints the eyes of the sleeping Lysander and exits. Demetrius and Helena arrive, and he leaves her behind. Lysander awakes, sees Helena, and immediately falls in love with her. She mistakes his courtship for mockery and tries to elude him. After they exit, the abandoned Hermia awakes from a nightmare and goes in search of her beloved Lysander.
Act 3, scene 2
Robin Goodfellow reports to Oberon about Titania and Bottom. When Demetrius enters wooing Hermia, Oberon discovers that Robin has anointed the eyes of the wrong Athenian. Oberon then orders Robin to fetch Helena while he anoints the eyes of the sleeping Demetrius. Helena enters pursued by Lysander vowing his love. Demetrius awakes, falls in love with Helena, and also begins to woo her. Helena believes both men are mocking her. When Hermia arrives and learns that Lysander has abandoned her for Helena, she threatens Helena, who thinks that Hermia is part of the conspiracy. Lysander and Demetrius prepare to duel to prove their right to Helena. At Oberon’s command, Robin impersonates each of the two men in turn in order to lead the other astray until both, exhausted, fall asleep. Helena and Hermia also fall asleep. Robin applies nectar to Lysander’s eyes to undo the spell that has drawn him to Helena.
Bottom—Ian Merrill Peakes
Peter Quince—Tom Story
First Fairy song performed by Jessica Witchger.
All other parts were played by members of the company.
Eric Shimelonis—Sound Design and Music Composition
Katharine Pitt—Production Assistant
David Polk—General Manager
Adam Stamper at Omega Recording Studios—Recording and Engineering
Michael Witmore—Director, Folger Shakespeare Library
Janet Alexander Griffin—Artistic Producer
Barbara A. Mowat and Paul Werstine—Editors, Folger Editions
In partnership with Simon & Schuster Audio