What is the emotion in the following scenes? Do any of the characters have accents (i.e. British, Irish...)? One sentence summary of the characters listed? These are the audition scenes for the school play and I'm just trying to figure out how to perform them best. Thanks :)
Theseus, Hippolyta, Egeus
Act 1, scene 1 lines 1 – 54 (pg. 7 – 11 Folger)
Begin: “Now, fair Hippolyta, our nuptial hour”
End: “Till I torment thee for this injury.”
Note that the line "till I torment thee for this injury" appears all the way in Act 2.
While it isn't specified that any of these characters have accents, it's a bit of an Anglophilic meme that characters in a Shakespeare play should speak with British accents. One way this might be tweaked would be to make a political or cultural point; for example, if Puck were to speak with an accent akin to a stereotypical car dealer, we might take this to mean that he's scheming and untrustworthy, and has no intentions of hiding it. However, for the sake of an audition it might be best to speak more or less in one's natural voice, since it's often at the discretion of the director whether and how the character's accents should sound, and choosing one may inadvertently cast you in a different light than the director seeks.
This scene begins with a positive tone; Theseus and Hippolyta are looking forward to their wedding, and are in a good mood. Egeus then enters, "full of vexation" (anger) against his daughter. Egeus then lists his complaints against her, and Lysander, her unapproved suitor, in a tone that demands action. Theseus adopts a matter-of-fact tone as he appraises the situation and cautions Hermia against rash words and actions.
Theseus is the duke of Athens, the ruler of the other mortal characters.
Hippolyta is the Queen of the Amazons that Theseus has recently conquered.
Egeus is a nobleman, and Hermia's father.
Your question about characters' accents brings up a really interesting point! The characters in A Midsummer’s Night’s Dream shouldn’t have fixed accents--unlike Shakespeare’s history plays (for example, his series of plays about King Henry IV), A Midsummer Night’s Dream doesn’t take place in the real world, but instead in a fantasy version of Athens, Greece, and later in the play, a magical forest. However, since Shakespeare contrasts classes of people, the high class (the royalty, who speak in a sophisticated, often extravagant dialect) and the low class (Puck and “the rude mechanicals” who often mix up their words and make grammatical errors), it might be interesting to play with accents for each character, depending on their station in the play.
Additionally, though we associate Shakespeare plays with very proper British English, like the kind spoken on the BBC, the original actors would’ve spoken in an accent closer to Appalachian English, due to linguistic change. As a fun exercise, try saying some lines in a Southern American dialect and see how they sound!
Act I, scene 1 has a lot of emotions! The play begins with a scene expressing longing and anticipation, and moves to a scene expressing intense conflict of desires. Everybody at the opening of this play wants something desperately and has not yet gotten it. The specifics of this desire depend on which character you are speaking of.
The next part of 1.1 is a scene beginning with despair and ending with exuberant hope. Lysander rescues their depression with a Plan for Escape.
II, 1 is about Frustration. Both characters want what they cannot have.
I,2 shows the character's anxious to get the parts they feel best suit them
III, 1 is a rehearsal in which all want to shine.
II,1 Introduction to the Fairy World, this is play and an important set up for the dynamics we are to encounter in the fairy kingdom at present.
II,2 is pure rivalry and attempts for domination between two characters who belong together but are currently on the outs.