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Greg Wyatt Sculpture of Midsummer Night's Dream in Shakespeare's New Place

Sculpture of A Midsummer Night's Dream by Greg Wyatt

Dr Paul Edmondson and Professor Sir Stanley Wells discuss sculptures of Shakespeare's plays with the sculptor, Greg Wyatt. This sculpture depicts A Midsummer Night's Dream.


Wells: I think this is the tenderest of the sculptures, don’t you? The sexuality of the play is beautifully brought out, I think, in Titania with her eyes half-closed and nuzzling against the muzzle of Bottom, the ass she’s in love with in the play.

Edmondson: And the ass’s head, the transformation of Bottom into the ass, as it were, is central to the play and a great stage image that people remember about it. And here it is in the centre of the sculpture.

Wells: At the same time, the sculpture is surmounted by the moon, which again is very appropriate because the moon is a very important figure in the play on both the serious and the comic side.

Edmondson: And Shakespeare uses the word “moon” in A Midsummer’s Night Dream more than any other word, so its very much a resonant image.

Wyatt: And also the image in the negative revealing the shadow of the moon casting upon the small mushroom gardens.

Edmondson: Ah there’s some mushrooms round here.

Wyatt: Which occupy the spaces between the roots woven with the lighting of the moon.

Edmondson: There is also a reminder that the play is set in Athens with these classical columns, which is not usually picked up visually these days in productions.

Wells: Not these days. It used to be, but not nowadays.

Edmondson: I love the way this sculpture captures the enchantedness of the forest where a lot of the action takes place and the cycle of the moon, and the theatricality of the mask head for Bottom, and some of the love interest in the play, with Titania and Bottom especially, and there’s a naked Titania just underneath one of the moons on the other side of the sculpture.

Wyatt: In reference to the moon images, I would illuminate the emerging monument model with candlelight and that’s a special way to organise textures and descriptions of organic material, or geometry, or the ins and outs of sculptural typography.

Edmondson: “Through the house give glimmering light by the dead and drowsy fire”, which is the blessing of the palace at the end of play by the King and Queen of the Fairies, and you worked until midnight by candlelight.

Wyatt: By candlelight, and you actually see more, not by seeing but perceiving more.

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