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Make a Scene: A Midsummer Night's Dream in Japan

Meet Lisa Yardley, the artist giving Shakespeare's great fairy tale a Japanese influence.

This summer, we're inviting our visitors to help us set the stage for five special performances, each inspired by a different culture from around the world. Read on to find out more about Lisa Yardley, who is transporting A Midsummer Night's Dream to a Japanese setting.

Lisa Yardley

Lisa Yardley’s career as an artist spans twenty years. She began working with Bristol carnival and trained with Perpetual Beauty from Notting Hill developing insight into spectacle and mass participation along with giant puppetry and costume skills. She has showcased her pieces at festivals nationally and internationally as well as working with county councils, art galleries and museums. Studying illustration focused a desire to work with narrative and story-telling through art and Lisa now creates whimsical creatures in different media. Currently an art teacher, she devises interactive projects for public engagement as well as having her own practice as an artist.

For Make a Scene, Lisa takes the magic and mystical creatures of Shakespeare’s woodland in A Midsummer Night’s Dream and makes links to the Japanese Shinto idea of ‘kami’ referring to the divinity, or sacred essence, that manifests in multiple forms in nature. Rocks, trees, rivers, animals, places and people are said to possess the nature of kami, where kami and people are not separate; they exist within the same world and share its interrelated complexity. 

Here, clay figures and woodland spirits protect the woods, while prints (In the style of the Japanese artist Hokusai) welcome visitors to the woodland theatre space. The prints feature Shakespeare’s initials, based on the technique used to create hanko seals. Typically used with red ink or cinnabar paste (a mercury ore) these seals are a traditional way to sign documents or artwork.

A Midsummer Night’s Dream (written in 1595) is a comedy set “in the wood, a league without the town”, a dream-like space with feuding fairies and with magic dictating the course of love. Mischief and mayhem occur as a group of amateur actors perform their own play within the play.

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