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A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Act 1, Scene 2

Play

Athens.

Enter Quince the carpenter, Snug the joiner, Bottom the weaver, Flute the bellows-mender, Snout the tinker, and Starveling the tailor.

Quince

Is all our company here?

Bottom

You were best to call them generally, man by man, according to the scrip.

Quince

Here is the scroll of every man’s name which is thought fit, through all Athens, to play in our interlude before the duke and the duchess on his wedding day at night.

Bottom

First, good Peter Quince, say what the play treats on, then read the names of the actors, and so grow to a point.

Quince

Marry, our play is, “The Most Lamentable Comedy and Most Cruel Death of Pyramus and Thisbe.”

Bottom

A very good piece of work, I assure you, and a merry. Now, good Peter Quince, call forth your actors by the scroll. Masters, spread yourselves.

Quince

Answer as I call you. Nick Bottom, the weaver.

Bottom

Ready. Name what part I am for and proceed.

Quince

You, Nick Bottom, are set down for Pyramus.

Bottom

What is Pyramus? A lover, or a tyrant?

Quince

A lover that kills himself most gallant for love.

Bottom

That will ask some tears in the true performing of it. If I do it, let the audience look to their eyes. I will move storms, I will condole in some measure. To the rest. Yet my chief humour is for a tyrant. I could play Ercles rarely, or a part to tear a cat in, to make all split.

The raging rocks

And shivering shocks

Shall break the locks

Of prison gates.

And Phibbus’ car

Shall shine from far

And make and mar

The foolish Fates.

This was lofty. Now name the rest of the players. This is Ercles’ vein, a tyrant’s vein. A lover is more condoling.

Quince

Francis Flute, the bellows-mender.

Flute

Here, Peter Quince.

Quince

Flute, you must take Thisbe on you.

Flute

What is Thisbe? A wandering knight?

Quince

It is the lady that Pyramus must love.

Flute

Nay, faith, let me not play a woman. I have a beard coming.

Quince

That’s all one. You shall play it in a mask, and you may speak as small as you will.

Bottom

An I may hide my face, let me play Thisbe too, I’ll speak in a monstrous little voice. “Thisne, Thisne!” — “Ah, Pyramus, lover dear! Thy Thisbe dear, and lady dear!”

Quince

No, no, you must play Pyramus. And Flute, you Thisbe.

Bottom

Well, proceed.

Quince

Robin Starveling, the tailor.

Starveling

Here, Peter Quince.

Quince

Robin Starveling, you must play Thisbe’s mother. Tom Snout, the tinker.

Snout

Here, Peter Quince.

Quince

You, Pyramus’ father. Myself, Thisbe’s father. Snug the joiner, you, the lion’s part. And, I hope, here is a play fitted.

Snug

Have you the lion’s part written? Pray you, if it be, give it me, for I am slow of study.

Quince

You may do it extempore, for it is nothing but roaring.

Bottom

Let me play the lion too. I will roar that I will do any man’s heart good to hear me. I will roar that I will make the duke say, “Let him roar again, let him roar again!”

Quince

An you should do it too terribly, you would fright the duchess and the ladies that they would shriek, and that were enough to hang us all.

All

That would hang us, every mother’s son.

Bottom

I grant you, friends, if you should fright the ladies out of their wits, they would have no more discretion but to hang us. But I will aggravate my voice so that I will roar you as gently as any sucking dove. I will roar you an ’twere any nightingale.

Quince

You can play no part but Pyramus, for Pyramus is a sweet-faced man, a proper man as one shall see in a summer’s day, a most lovely gentleman-like man. Therefore you must needs play Pyramus.

Bottom

Well, I will undertake it. What beard were I best to play it in?

Quince

Why, what you will.

Bottom

I will discharge it in either your straw-colour beard, your orange-tawny beard, your purple-in-grain beard, or your French-crown-colour beard, your perfit yellow.

Quince

Some of your French crowns have no hair at all, and then you will play bare-faced. But, masters, here are your parts, and I am to entreat you, request you, and desire you to con them by tomorrow night and meet me in the palace wood, a mile without the town, by moonlight. There will we rehearse, for if we meet in the city, we shall be dogged with company and our devices known. In the meantime, I will draw a bill of properties such as our play wants. I pray you, fail me not.

Bottom

We will meet. And there we may rehearse most obscenely and courageously. Take pains. Be perfit. Adieu.

Quince

At the duke’s oak we meet!

Bottom

Enough. Hold or cut bow-strings.

Next time: in the woods.

20160328-1856-01

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