Magical Night

I remember the first time I went to see A Midsummer Night's Dream. It was in 1994 in Melbourne where I was spending my last month in Australia working on my PhD thesis. My colleagues at the RMIT had a tradition of going to this outdoor "theatre" in the middle of the Royal Botanic Gardens and they kindly asked me to come along.

We went there in the afternoon with our blankets and picnic baskets. There was a nice lawn sloping gently towards a large pond where we sat down to eat. In the trees, large black fruit bats were hanging very still.

The confusing play started and not only acting followed, but also acrobatics, torches and fireworks. The sun set and the bats begun to look for their dinner. First just a few, and then the velvet sky was filled with their muffled flapping. The air was cool but not cold and the light breeze contained faint traces of the exotic flowers around us.

I think it is safe to say that the play A Midsummer Night's Dream is all about transformation, although a huge number of various analyses have been made and it will continue to inspire aspiring literature critics for ages to come. I'm not sure I was transformed into something, but the evening definitely changed me in some way. It created a memory I will bring with me forever, I hope.

I know a bank where the wild thyme blows,
Where oxlips and the nodding violet grows,
Quite overcanopied with luscious woodbine,
With sweet musk roses, and with eglantine.
There sleeps Titania sometime of the night,
Lulled in these flowers with dances and delight;
And there the snake throws her enameled skin,
Weed wide enough to wrap a fairy in.

Australians do like their fairies. You find them on postcards, in gardens, in the house, on television, everywhere. The adorable adventures of Snugglepot and Cuddlepie by May Gibbs are well-known and when in Australia, you soon you begin to see gumnut babies everywhere.

From Australia October 2007

Apparently this year the Shakespeare Under The Stars event switched to As You Like It, but I'm sure it was good too. Should you be in Melbourne in February-March next year, I really recommend you get some tickets!

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