The Beauty of the Bard

When I began Directing, many years ago I remember a conversation I had when I pronounced,with total conviction, that I did not ‘do’ Shakespeare, that it was too traditional, too academic.


Years later and I find that my work with Shakespeare’s text and the new life you can breathe into each play has bought me such joy, alongside all my work with modern texts.

My very first Shakespeare play was Macbeth and then years later I discovered A Midsummer Nights Dream. Of course I’d seen it, I was fortunate enough to see Gregory Doran’s version at the RSC some years ago, but when it was my turn I had my actors, the youngest of whom was 11, and only 90 minutes to tell my story. I set it on a train, the mechanical being the conductors and staff of the train whilst the lovers were lounging in first class.

This time round…

I have devised a concept which will bring a modern brightness and relevance to the piece whilst retaining all it’s beautiful language and visual richness. At our Dream festival site, whilst the Royals flounce around looking for the perfect spot the fairies pickpocket and scavenge for their queen to feather her nest and bring her beauty….

And the beauty is that whilst undoubtedly Shakespeare, like all playwrights, had his vision for his work, it is in the re imagining that we keep it alive for new audiences, children and those that already love him. There’s nothing like the Bard and there’s certainly nothing like A Midsummer Nights Dream for putting magic and hope into everyone lives.


Anna Friend, Director, A Midsummer Nights Dream


At Swindon Arts Centre 28th-30th July.

Tickets available from