A Midsummer Night's Dream: stage directions

A Midsummer Night’s Dream: stage directions


  • “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” is commonly performed in a variety of settings, from traditional proscenium stages to more intimate thrust or arena stages.
  • The main locations in the play are Athens and the forest. These two settings must be distinct on stage to show the contrast between the order of the city and the chaotic magic of the forest.
  • Nature plays a significant role in the play, often represented on stage with large set pieces to show the forest and fairy kingdom.

Props and Costumes

  • Props, like Bottom’s donkey head or the love-in-idleness flower, are important for their symbolic and comedic value. Their use and placement should be thoughtfully considered.
  • Costumes can significantly aid the audience in distinguishing between the different groups of characters: the Athenians, the fairies and the Mechanicals.


  • Shakespeare’s original stage directions are quite minimal. This gives the director a lot of freedom in the staging and interpreting the play.
  • Physical humour and slapstick are prominent, requiring dedicated space on stage for the actors to perform these actions.
  • Stage positioning and movement of the actors should be used to reflect the complex relationships and hierarchical structures within both the human and fairy communities.
  • The role of Puck, as both a character and a narrator, lets the director be creative with how they use him to transition between scenes and guide the audience through the story.

Special Effects, Lighting and Sound

  • Lighting and special effects can be used to distinguish between the human world and the fairy kingdom, helping create an atmosphere of magic and fantasy.
  • Music and sound effects can enhance the magical and dream-like quality of the play, such as soundscapes of nature or ethereal music for the fairies.

Play within the Play

  • There is a play within the play (Pyramus and Thisbe), which needs its own distinct staging, including set, costumes and props. This sequence should be clearly differentiated from the main action of “A Midsummer Night’s Dream”.


  • Understanding stage directions, setting, and prop use thoroughly will allow for a more nuanced interpretation and production of this multifaceted play.