Tom Hunter: A Midsummer Night's Dream

RSC EXHIBITIONS PRESS RELEASE

Tom Hunter:
A Midsummer Night's Dream

PACCAR Room, Royal Shakespeare Theatre, Stratford-upon-Avon
4 November 2011 – 1 April 2012
Private view: 6-8pm, 11 November 2011
Admission free

Acclaimed artist Tom Hunter is best known for his photographic reworkings of old-master paintings and for being the only artist to have had a photography show at the National Gallery. For the RSC he has created a new series of photographs inspired by Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night's Dream and the paintings of the Romantic artist Henry Fuseli. Hunter's contemporary reworking of the play focuses on real lives and communities in Hackney where he lives and works. By using different groups in his neighbourhood including samba dancers, pearly kings and queens, a thrash metal band and a pole dancer, new meanings are given to the everyday. Tom Hunter: A Midsummer Night's Dream opens in the PACCAR Room in the Royal Shakespeare Theatre on 4 November and admission is free.

In the photographs, commonplace environments and situations are transformed and put under the limelight to create a magical spectacle, encouraging the viewer to think of the ordinary as extraordinary. Tom Hunter says of the project: 'I've imagined that explosive mix of real people, cultures and ages in a real life location and put them all together to create a world full of unbelievable reality. I hope to take Shakespeare out of the theatre and into the lives of the people around us.'

Taking key moments from the play, Hunter has distilled Shakespeare's work into images which weave together contemporary city life with that of the celebrated tale of love and illusion. Hunter's Titania is an exotic samba dancer stretched out on a table at a local snooker hall ('There sleeps Titania something of the night'), Helena a pole dancer at a strip club ('O, how ripe in show Thy lips, those kissing cherries, tempting grow!') and the 'Rude Mechanicals' a female thrash metal band rehearsing in a back room ('I will roar you as gently as any sucking dove'). Just as the characters in A Midsummer Night's Dream perform plays within a play, the models in Hunter's tableaux are players in their neighbourhoods. At first glance the images look contemporary and the subjects ordinary, but as the series unfolds so does the magic of Shakespeare's tale with its themes of love, lust, jealousy and illusion.

I have had a dream, past the wit of man to say what dream it was. Man is but an ass, if he go about to expound this dream, Methought I was, there is no man to tell what. Methought I was, and methought I had… But man is but a patched fool, if he will offer to say what methought I had.

About Tom Hunter
Tom Hunter graduated from the London College of Printing with a BA First Class Honours in 1994 and completed his MA at the Royal College of Art, London in1997 and has just been awarded an honorary doctorate of the Arts from the University of East London. In 1998, Hunter won the John Kobal Photographic Portrait Award. In 2006 he became the first and only artist to have had a photography show at the National Gallery, London. Hunter lives and works in Hackney, London. His work portrays and documents the communities and life he knows as neighbours and friends in East London. He has exhibited work both nationally and internationally, in solo and group shows and is also a Senior Research Fellow of the London College of Communication, University of the Arts London.

About RSC Exhibitions
The programme aims to create imaginative opportunities and fresh perspectives that explore and explode the work of the RSC. The new strand of work engages audiences outside of their experience of watching a production on stage, opening up the creative process and encouraging new ways to participate. The exhibitions take place in two dedicated spaces in Stratford's Royal Shakespeare Theatre, the Swan Room and the PACCAR Room, and appear as interventions around the building.

Listings details for Tom Hunter:
The PACCAR Room
Royal Shakespeare Theatre, Waterside
Stratford-upon-Avon, Warwickshire, CV37 6BB
Tel: 0844 800 1110

Exhibitions open daily from 9am –10pm, and from 10am-5pm on Sundays
Website: http://www.rsc.org.uk/whats-on/exhibitions/tom-hunter-midsummer-nights-dream.aspx

For further press information and images, please contact Alison Wright,
E: alison@alisonwrightpr.com or T: 01608 811 474 or M: 07814 796930

For the RSC contact:
Dean Asker, E: dean.asker@rsc.org.uk or T: 01789 412660 or M: 0778 9937759

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