Listen to a conversation between a student and a professor.
OK, let’s see, right …[reading] “Modern stagings of a Shakespearean classic.”
Well like I told you last week I think that’s a great topic for your paper.[questioning] So the title’ll be something like …
I’m not really sure. Probably something like “Twentieth-Century Stagings of A Midsummer Night’s Dream.”
Yes. I like that: straightforward and to the point. So how’s the research going?
Well, that’s what I came to talk to you about.
I was wondering if you happened to have a copy of the Peter Brook production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream in your video collection.
I’ve been looking for it everywhere, and… I’m having a really hard time tracking it down.
That’s because it doesn’t exist.
Huh! You mean in your collection, or at all?
I mean at all. That particular production was never filmed or recorded.
Oh no. I had no idea. From what I’ve read, that production, like, it influenced every other production of the play that came after it so … I just assumed it had been filmed or videotaped.
Oh, it definitely was a landmark production, and … it’s not like it ran for just a week, but either it was never filmed, or if it was, the film has been lost.
And it’s ironic because there’s even a film about the making of the production, but none of the production itself.
So now what do I do … if there’s no video … ?
Well, think about it. This is the most important twentieth-century staging of A Midsummer Night’s Dream, right?
But how can I write about Brook’s interpretation of the play if I can’t see his production?
Just because there’s no recording doesn’t mean you can’t figure out how it influenced other productions.
I guess there’s enough material around. But it’ll be a challenge.
True, but think about it: You’re writing about dramatic arts… the theater, and that’s the nature of theater isn’t it?
You mean because it’s live, when the performance is finished …
That’s it, unless it’s filmed, it’s gone! But that doesn’t mean we can’t study it.
And of course some students in this class are writing about productions in the nineteenth century…and there are no videos of those.
You know, one of the challenges for people who study theater is to find ways of talking about something that’s really so transient, about something that in a sense, doesn’t exist.