Home   What's On   News   Article

The Royal Shakespeare Company's A Midsummer Night's Dream features the Canterbury Players and King Ethlebert School pupils

A reworking of Shakespeare’s magical A Midsummer Night’s Dream is part of the celebrations marking the 400th anniversary of the playwright’s death. We spoke to Queen of the Fairies, Titania – Star Wars actress Ayesha Dharker.

How does this production differ from other Shakespeare plays you’ve previously performed in?

This production differs from anything I have ever been in because of the many layers of complexity and madness that go with it! The idea of working with 14 different people playing one character (Bottom) is unusual. He is the character with whom I have almost all significant scenes, so that is terrifying and exciting. All the actors who play Bottom are so talented, distinct and bold in their choices that it will change things a lot for me from one week to the next.

The RSC's A Midsummer Night's Dream
The RSC's A Midsummer Night's Dream

How are you feeling about playing Titania opposite 14 different amateur Bottoms?

The only thing that the Bottoms seem to have in common is huge passion for the project. I have never mixed anyone up because they are so specific. I have to admit that doing a scene with one Bottom, while up to nine other Bottoms could be watching, is awkward. Also, I thought falling in love with 14 different Bottoms and Oberon would be difficult but it is actually far too much fun.

Does this change the way you play Titania – will she be different depending on which Bottom she’s with?

I think that is inevitable because every actor I work with has a different physicality and rhythm and are just very different people to each other. Two of the Bottoms are played by women and the scenes are very different when Bottom is a woman. The scenes are very intimate, but have to be so in different ways, because it is not just lust but love that Titania feels, and that involves falling for the individual qualities of each person.

What are you looking forward to most about the production?

Unlike any other play I have ever done this play involves a new cast of mechanicals, a new venue every week and a new set of children every two shows, so there is a sense of leaping into the void – but in a good way!

The RSC will play at the Marlowe Theatre
The RSC will play at the Marlowe Theatre

What attracted you to the role of Titania?

Although she is powerful, she is forced to reckon with things that she cannot control. She is seeing her world fall apart because of her fight with Oberon and is unable to stop it without his help. When she is enchanted by Oberon and falls in love with Bottom, she loves him in a way that she could never love anyone in a normal state.


One of Shakespeare’s most beloved comedies, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, is staged by the Royal Shakespeare Company to mark the 400th anniversary of the Bard’s death.

Four lovers find themselves wrapped in the mischievous arms of an enchanted forest where sprites lurk and fairies rule.

Alongside the professionals for the Kent shows will be members of the Canterbury Players and pupils from King Ethelbert School, Birchington.

Fourteen actors play Bottom in the RSC's A Midsummer Night's Dream
Fourteen actors play Bottom in the RSC's A Midsummer Night's Dream

Leading the cast is Ayesha Dharker, playing Titania, Queen of the Fairies. The 39-year-old has starred in the West End and on Broadway. Her film credits include Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clones and she has also been on TV in Doctor Who and Waterloo Road.

The production opened in Stratford-upon-Avon in February and is being filmed for the BBC’s The Best Bottoms In the Land, which is following the RSC’s journey around the country.

On its UK tour, as well as the 18 professional actors there will be 84 amateur actors from 14 different amateur theatre companies, and 583 schoolchildren.

Sally Elkerton, director of the Canterbury Players, said seven members of her group had been lucky enough to work with the RSC in the show.

She said: “It has been wonderful and rewarding and audiences will soon be able to see the result of their work.”


The Royal Shakespeare Company’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream is at the Marlowe Theatre, Canterbury from Tuesday, April 19 to Saturday, April 23. For tickets from £14.50 call 01227 787787, or click here.

Close This site uses cookies. By continuing to browse the site you are agreeing to our use of cookies.Learn More