All is Mended? Activism and Eco-Anxiety in Bright Summer Night

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Shakespeare Bulletin


When New Zealand-based production company The Candle Wasters adapted A Midsummer Night’s Dream, they broke from the patterns established by their previous web series. Instead of vlog-based narratives covering several months, Bright Summer Night is a study of a party lasting one night, depicted in ten episodes, each following a single character. As characters fixate on the personal joys and fears of friendships and romances, they are also preoccupied with the grief and stress of living during a growing global environmental catastrophe. The party setting of Bright Summer Night utilizes the carnivalesque party setting as a transformative green world, substituting substance abuse for Cupid’s flower and the pressures of the contemporary youth experience for the oppressive laws of Athens. Rather than playing the intoxicated revelries of the partygoers for laughs, however, Bright Summer Night uses the setting to open dialogues about environmentalism (including the eco-anxiety of Millennials and Gen Z), sexuality, non-binary gender expression, relationship toxicity, and emotional expression. Resisting the neat problem-resolution of other adaptations such as Get Over It and A Midsummer Night’s Rave, Bright Summer Night rewrites Shakespeare’s lines and plot points to demonstrate that not every offense can be mended. The series also functions as a meta-commentary on using artistic expression to call attention to social and ethical issues. Drawing on ecocriticism, adaptation theory, and youth studies, this article explores how Shakespeare can be used by young people as social commentary in the digital age.



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