Humanizing Bottom in A Midsummer Night's Dream by William Shakespeare

Dan Kuan Peeples, Bates College


This thesis is a two-part critical analysis of Shakespeare’s late 16th century play, A Midsummer Night’s Dream: in the first part, the student will do dramaturgical research on the playwright - compiling and analyzing peer-reviewed research about the Bard’s life, influences, and literary imprint - as well as examine the play and the play’s incidents through this dramaturgical lens. In addition, the student will focus on his pre-cast role as the character Nick Bottom, executing extensive character research that will rely on both an analysis of previous depictions of the character on film and on stage, as well as the dramaturgical research performed earlier in the semester.

In the second part of this thesis, the student will apply this dramaturgical and character research practically, by rehearsing A Midsummer Night’s Dream with a 22-person cast comprised of students and faculty. During the process of this practical application of the dramaturgical research, the student will attempt to gain insight on the character through these daily rehearsals with the cast of the show and the advisor. The research performed earlier in the year will serve as a roadmap for these rehearsals by informing the acting choices that the student makes on-stage.

The final product of the project is a five-night performance of the play in March, a culminating experience that fully amalgams both the dramaturgical research and practical work that the student has completed over the course of two semesters.