SOGNO DI UNA NOTTE DI MEZZA ESTATE: SIGNIFICATO E PERSONAGGIWilliam Shakespeare is one of the most important works characterized by the play within the play. The theme, in fact, is often used by the author, but in this particular comedy it has got one of the main place in order to importance.
It appears in three acts( fist, third and fifth) and it seems to be laid in regular structure which organizes the scenes of theatres in a parallel drama.
It can have different functions, it’s a document to show how a company works or a joke about bad actors or self-irony or, definitively, a way to increase audience’s approval.
The theme of the play-within-a-play, or meta-theatre, is not Shakespeare’s invention, but it takes origins in the Latin play writer Plauto.
Shakespeare and the play within a play
Shakespeare often uses play within the play in his dramas; very famous is, in fact, Hamlet, or the less known The Taming of the Shrew. Sometimes it isn’t divided from the story, as in Midnight, where it occupies a scene on his own, but it’s a spontaneous internal drama as if a scene between two characters seemed artificial.
In every different works Shakespeare makes use of the play-within-the-play for different goal. So in Hamlet it serves the protagonist to organize his uncle’s homicide; in The Tempest it isn’t a representation or a spontaneous drama, but the whole comedy it’s a metaphor for life which is a play. The critics divide dramas into three period for every different form of play-within-the-play; Midnight belongs, with The Taming of The Shrew and Love’s Labour’s Loast, to the first period characterised by a complete separation between play within the play and the main play.
SOGNO D'UNA NOTTE DI MEZZA ESTATE: TEATRO
Shakespeare’s masters. The Latin play writer Plauto is the first user of meta-theatre. We can find it in the use of asides or the prologue which, for the first time, break the wall between actor and audience. That’s an exemple:
Hoc agite sultis, spectatores, nunciam,
quae quidem mihi atque vobis res vertat bene
gregique huic et dominis atque conductoribus.
SOGNO D'UNA NOTTE DI MEZZA ESTATE: PERSONAGGI
Thomas Kyd brings metatheatre in English theatre; in The Spanish Tragedy Hieronimo organizes a play for Bel-Imperia and Balthazar marriage to extract his revenge; characters act the same role they perform in the real life but they don’t know.
Shakespeare uses Kyd’s idea in Hamlet (we know The Spanish Tragedy is the main source of this masterpiece) and in other works. His experience, however, is wider and grows, as we said.
Midsummer’s play whiten the play scheme and characters
We already said play within the play occupies a great place in the comedy. It’s a world separated from the story, even if it communicates with it.
In the first act( I.2) it represents the assignment of the roles. Quince, Snug, Bottom, Flute, Snout and Starvelling are the actors and everyone has not only a role in the play, but they represent people who works in a company. So Quince is a kind of hired men because he’s a minor actor but gives roles and defines the plot and Bottom is a sharer because he performs the principal role, even if he isn’t patented; the other characters have got roles less important, but we have to sign Flute, who is a boy actress.