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This programme considers the importance of magical experience in 'A Midsummer Night's Dream'. it looks at a gnostic mass performed by a group in New York City and compares the role of magic today w...ith the role of magic in Shakespeare's society. The 'folk' magic and May Day rituals of the play are studied before moving on to a consideration of scholarly magic and the role of the magus. The way magical thinking influenced Shakespeare's use of theatre space is also considered. Finally the programme looks at how the magician's love of symbols is evident in the work of Jasper Johns.
Metadata describing this Open University video programme
Module code and title: A101, An arts foundation course
Item code: A101; 08
First transmission date: 12-04-1978
Published: 1978
Rights Statement:
Restrictions on use:
Duration: 00:22:04
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Producer: Paul Kafno
Contributor: Joe Barber
Publisher: BBC Open University
Keyword(s): A Midsummer Night's Dream; Drama; Shakespeare; Theatre
Footage description: Barber introduces the programme from the grounds of the University of California, Santa Cruz, where he is Professor of Literature. He explains the need for art, and gives the campus as an example of successful art, over shots of the campus. From a Santo Cruz bookshop he describes the popularity of books on magic. Film of a Gnostic mass taking place in a small room in New York. From woods in the Santa Cruz campus Barber explains the role of folk magic and relates A Midsummer Night's Dream to this. Over a montage of shots simulating running through woods, he describes a contemporary account of a May Day ritual and compares this to A Midsummer Night's Dream. From his home, Barber quotes from the play to explain Shakespeare's notions of magic and imagination, and the relation of poetry to these. Over portraits of Elizabeth I and of Botticelli's Primavera, Barker relates the magic of 'A Midsummer Night's Dream to contemporary ideas about the mythological qualities of monarchy. Portrait of astrologer John Dee, over which he describes the influence of scholarly magic. From the Santa Cruz performing Arts Theatre, Barber considers how magical thinking influenced Shakespeare's use of the play space of the theatre, using Othello as a specific example. Many shots of Jasper Johns lithographs from an exhibition at Santa Cruz University. Barter argues that John's work provides a modern equivalent to the magician's traditional love of symbols. He relates aspects of John's work to effects used in A Midsummer Night's Dream. Barber concludes the programme from his University's Quarry Theatre, where he comments on the magical element of the Tempest and quotes from the play.
Master spool number: 6HT/72835
Production number: 00525_3445
Videofinder number: 2598
Available to public: no