6 May 2020
Al-Saber, Samer. “Beyond Colonial Tropes: Two Productions of ‘A Midsummer Night's Dream’ in Palestine.” Critical Survey, vol. 28, no. 3, 2016, pp. 27–46.
This article compares two Palestinian theatrical productions of Shakespeare’s A Misdummer Night’s Dream. The first production was presented at the Ashtar Theater in 1995 and came into being through a German-led group of international collaborators. The second production was presented at the Al-Kasaba Drama Academy in 2011. It was directed by the author of the article and featured Palestinian student-actors. The article details the genesis of each production, including dramaturgical notes on the translations and texts, remarks on the rehearsal process and descriptions of the staging of the finished productions.
Important themes: International collaboration, Palestinian colonial heritage, academic theater, Shakespeare and colonialism, translation, social justice within a theatrical context.
How does this relate to scenography?
Set, lighting, costume and prop design for both productions are mentioned. For example,the 1995 production included four moveable castered trees and “the recognizable aesthetic of a travelling company of actors: minimal technical elements, a black box aesthetic, visible offstage performers, a sloped audience and open wing space.” The 2011 production featured “trees made of suspended ropes functioned as swings, seats and climbing ropes.” In both productions, the author explains, the design elements heightened present realities and promoted intercultural awareness.
This article is particularly useful for demonstrating that minimalist design elements in a theatrical production resonate when they connect politically and culturally to their environments. “Minimalist theater” is more than simply an aesthetic choice.