William Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream contains “misogyny and racism,” warned the Globe.
The 400-year comedy is part of the venue’s summer schedule and audiences are being warned of possible shocking content in the show which tells the story of wayward lovers who flee into a magical forest.
The content warning in the online guide also warns that the show, which is due to run from April 2023, contains “sexual references” and the “language of violence”.
The inclusion of a warning about preview material for the show comes after Globe Theater education experts criticized it for its misogyny and as part of a series of ‘Anti-racist Shakespeare’ workshops meant to ‘decolonise’ the work of the Bard.
The play is not typically seen as a “race play” like Othello – which features a key non-white character – but academics said at an earlier Globe seminar that Shakespeare’s work creates a “dark/light binary” that casts dark or black as negative and white or light as positive.
Use of ‘racial’ language
This use of language was said to be “racial” and the racial divide was evident from the first line of the play: “Now, fair Hippolyta”.
The Globe seminar also highlighted the use of 400-year-old racial epithets as slurs by some characters in the play, including “tawny Tartar” (Tartars referring to a large Trukic ethnic group) and “Ethiope” (someone from Ethiopia).
The play has also been criticized in the past by Globe pundits for its potential “misogyny,” including the initial plot trigger that sees the female character Hermia flee Athens as she is faced with the choice of marrying against her will. or to be executed or placed in a convent.
He flees to a forest ruled by the fairy queen Titania and her king Oberon, who conceives a plot to drug his wife with a potion that makes her fall in love with the comical comedy character Bottom. Some academics have argued that this comic relationship is worrying because Titania is on drugs and therefore she cannot consent.
Hailey Bachrach, a researcher at the University of Roehampton and founder of the Shakespeare and Consent educational project, previously told The Telegraph that this type of storyline can “make Shakespeare problematic”.
Seminars against racism
The Globe itself has sought to address the more disturbing aspects of the Bard’s work with its Anti-Racist Shakespeare seminars in which visiting academics variously argued that Hamlet’s dithering is a result of him “struggling with ideas of darkness” and That King Lear talks about “royalty and whiteness”.
The staging of Shakespeare’s plays has also been tackled by London’s famous experimental theatre, which recently staged a version of Titus Andronicus for which the script was altered to make the characters appear more racist to modern audiences.
The theater’s most recent take on the historical comedy Henry V has tried to suggest that the famous king was a power-hungry imperialist rather than merely an English hero.
Instead of praising a “band of brothers” defeating the French against all odds at Agincourt, the new staging aimed to present audiences with the “devastating cost” of Henry’s “bombed-down quest for power”.
A Globe spokesperson said: “The content guide is written before each production is created and based on what is in the show. These will be updated as the production comes to life.