Danny Scheie and Pegge Johnson in "A Midsummer Night's Dream," a coproduction by California Shakespeare Theatre and Two River Theater. This was just one of five times Bottom and Titania have met on the cover of American Theatre.
Next to the image of a guy contemplating a skull at arm’s length, just about no scene makes as easy a shorthand for “Shakespeare” as a romantic clinch between a woman and a donkey-man. This memorable enchanted-prank coupling from A Midsummer Night’s Dream between Titania and a half-assed Bottom, that rude mechanical turned slightly ruder at the whim of the mischievous Puck, graces the cover of the current issue of American Theatre. But they’re not the only version of the fairy-donkey duo that has adorned our covers in our three decades of publication. Take a tour of these past flowery beds, gentle joys.
Our April 1989 cover featured a shot from Hartford Stage Company’s production, as part of an essay about four new and particularly erotic takes on the play.
For our October season preview in 2010, we used this vibrant shot from a 2009 co-production between California Shakespeare Theater and Two River Theater Company.
Last, but hardly least, was our January 2002 cover, with a scene from Diane Paulus’s raunchy “The Donkey Show” (still playing today at American Repertory Theater). To be technical, it may not represent exactly the same moment from Shakespeare as the previous examples, but “Donkey Show” deserves a place here for its title alone.