All Articles
All Articles

Midsummer Night's Dreaming

The Royal Shakespeare Company and Google Creative Lab recompose the celebrated play in an experimental online stage

by Leonora Oppenheim
on 18 June 2013

The Royal Shakespeare Company (RSC), in a bid to explore how the Bard of Avon can take center-stage in today’s digitally interactive world, has collaborated with Google Creative Lab to produce a three-day, real-time performance of one of Shakespeare’s most popular plays. The event is situated in the real world in the RSC’s home of Stratford-upon-Avon and also online at Dream 40.

Many know and love the play within a play that is Shakespeare’s "A Midsummer Night’s Dream," in which several pairs of lovers fall prey to the mayhem and mischief caused by the king of fairies, Oberon, and his sidekick Puck. The plot is complex and layered, leading to a comedic web of emotional confusion and blurred realities.


For Midsummer Night’s Dreaming, Google is encouraging people to interact with the play in a multitude of ways as they follow the characters’ journeys through the magical forest of dreams and towards the famous marriage scene between Demetrius and Helena, Lysander and Hermia.

From this midsummer’s eve (21-23 June) people around the world can take part online via the Google+ community hangout and other social media using the hashtag #dream40—this being the 40th full production of the play by the RSC.


Those in Shakespeare’s birthplace of Stratford-upon-Avon can watch the play—directed by the RSC’s Artistic Director Gregory Doran—in person at the outdoor Dell Theatre. Audience members can also join in on 23 June by making decorations, writing blessings for the happy couples and by attending the wedding itself as part of the congregation.

Project director at Google Creative Lab Tom Uglow has written a detailed explanation of how the play will work on multiple platforms, complete with a sweet animation starring William Shakespeare himself and a time-traveling pig.


Uglow compares the Dream 40 extravaganza with contemporary immersive theater performances. “Modern theater makes the audience walk, or puts them in a car, or makes them the actor; our stage is online, it is fragmented, glimpsed, experienced and amplified through sharing—the narrative exists around us and immerses us.”


The experimental nature of Midsummer Night's Dreaming will reflect how theatrical performance can engage with the online world in real time. Puck leads the charge as the only character to bridge the live and digital performances with his own online profile. Puck, using his fairy magic, will encourage creativity and interaction among multiple audiences, while concurrently performing in the original narrative in the real world.

Uglow sums up the event: “The Royal Shakespeare Company wants to define future paradigms for digital performance. Google wants to explore those paradigms too—using tools like Google+ and YouTube to push, fracture, break and recompose. This is a creative experiment, an attempt to see what happens when you take the old and beautiful and reframe it within modern, noisy and uncontrollable tools.”

Images courtesy of RSC and Dream 40

The CH25 is a showcase of creators and innovators from a broad range of disciplines who are currently working to drive the world forward.

Tarren Wolfe

The next-generation appliance making kitchens greener—literally

Read More
Our goal is to provide food for everyone in the world, and the best place to start is in our very own community

Lulu Mickelson

A civic leader bringing change to NYC through design

Read More
Human-centered design is one of the many tools that we can use to better engage the public

Sarah Kunst

The entrepreneur single-handedly changing the landscape for women in tech

Read More
People who live on a planet that is half women but can never seem to find any when they need one, I have solved your problem

Jonathan Sparks

Reinventing electronic music by inventing multi-disciplinary instruments

Read More
Recorded music is becoming so cheap, so the value of music is now in live performance

Cynthia Breazeal

How an emotional, empathetic robot named Jibo stands to revolutionize communication

Read More
The thing that's so provocative about social robots is that it's fundamentally a community technology

LaToya Ruby Frazier

Documenting the slow, troubling change in Braddock, Pennsylvania

Read More
I am not a journalist, I am a conceptual documentary artist using my visual expression for building narratives that are unseen and unheard

Corinne Joachim Sanon

The chocolatier bringing social change to Haiti and bean-to-bar chocolate to the world

Read More
Seeing the poverty surrounding me and the lack of jobs and opportunity bothered me

George Arriola and Monohm

An heirloom electronic for the post-smartphone era

Read More
We agonized during the design process as all hyper-obsessed craftspeople should

Kathleen Supové

The NYC performance artist who’s radically reinventing the piano recital

Read More
I like pieces that are virtuosic, that show off the piano and what it can do, and are awe-inspiring

Melissa Kushner

Addressing the needs of orphans and vulnerable children in Malawi through microenterprise

Read More
Poverty is complicated, there is an increasing temptation and pressure in the development space to oversimplify things

Pauline van Dongen

The Dutch designer blazing the wearable technology path

Read More
I’m fascinated by concepts of change, movement, energy and perception; since they are closely related to the way we experience the world

Sabine Seymour

A future where smart clothes are as ubiquitous as zippers

Read More
In the future you will not buy a piece of 'functional' clothing without SoftSpot

Tal Danino

The bioengineer who’s programming DNA to fight cancer

Read More
[Manipulating genes] is very new, people are just learning how to program these organisms

Matt Kenyon

Fusing art and technology to disrupt concepts of corporate America

Read More
I want the work to live in the world and circulate, so it can generate more dialogue

Alex Kalman

The tiny museum in Manhattan that’s redefining museums

Read More
The mission is to put this small simple and powerful tool into the hands of as many people as possible

Joshua Harker

Pushing the boundaries of sculpture with intricate 3D printing

Read More
My intent was to explore and depict the architecture of the imagination, to interpret and share forms evident in the mind’s eye

Eelke Plasmeijer

The locally driven restaurant that’s upending Balinese food culture

Read More
We really try to keep things simple and let the produce do the talking

Marcus Weller

Using technology to turn motorcycle helmet design on its head

Read More
I was taken aback both by the number of people that doubted it, and by the equally large number of people that got behind it

Roxie Darling

From un-shampoo to transgender identity, the NYC colorist boldly defining the next chapter of hair

Read More
Hair color is as much a science as it is a craft

Leopoldine Huyghues Despointes

The young filmmaker and non-profit founder who just wants people to follow their dreams

Read More
I feel confident and ready to accomplish so much more, the movement is on

Vanessa Newman

Redesigning pregnancy for the post-gender generation with Butchbaby & Co.

Read More
I want my customers to feel comfortable and unchanged, in that becoming pregnant didn't take away from or compromise their identity

Dan Barasch + James Ramsey

A quest to make the future brighter—underground

Read More
We both share a passion for groundbreaking technology and a shared love of New York

Kegan Schouwenburg

Revolutionizing orthotics through 3D-printed insoles

Read More
What orthotics do is they effectively change the geometry of what your alignment is like

Douglas Riboud + Justin Guilbert

How a mission to create great coconut water led to a whole new way of doing business

Read More
We’ve made a conscious decision to be as transparent and honest as we can, and let people decide for themselves

Meredith Perry

How searching the Internet helped a 22-year-old invent wireless electricity

Read More
It’s not about where the information is, it’s about how you use the tools