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Theseus calls for his master of ceremonies to inform him what entertainments are available for them as a part of wedding feast activities. Philostrate, the master of ceremonies, first offers a story about a battle between Centaurs. This is to be performed by an Athenian eunuch, accompanying himself on the harp.
Theseus says that he has already told this story to his bride-to-be, when he was giving her details about one of his relatives, Hercules. Therefore, there is no need to have this entertainment at this time.
On the program of possibilities is also the story of a drunken brawl, in which a singer is torn apart! But Theseus argues that this is such an old story, and has been so often told, that it is of no interest here.
Another offering is that of the three Muses, who will mourn for the death of Learning. But Theseus says that this is too mournful and unappealing a subject for such a joyful occasion as the wedding feast.
The play of Pyramus and Thisbe is then offered. This is supposed to be a play which is both tragic and funny. Theseus believes this something which would be difficult to accomplish and wishes to see how it is done. But Philostrate informs Theseus that he has already seen their rehearsal, and that the play is not worth seeing.
Theseus demands to know who has written the play. When Philostrate tells him that it has been produced by common labourers, who have never before tried to use their brains instead of their brawn, Theseus in intrigued. He decides that it must be heard.
Theseus further declares that it might be fun to see what the royal party could make of the play, that even those who offer it may not understand. He says that something offered in simplicity is often superior to those works struggled over by more cerebral authors, yet without real meaning and depth of feeling.
Obviously, Shakespeare is making the point that some authors, who might be highly thought of at the time, might not actually offering literature as appealing and understandable as others who write from the heart. Perhaps he is making a plea for his own plays?
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