A Midsummer Night's Dream by William Shakespeare

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Scene II


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(5)
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. (10)
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.(15)
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.(20)
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 humor is for a tyrant. I could play
Ercles rarely, or a part to tear a cat in, to make all(25)
split.
‘The raging rocks
And shivering shocks
Shall break the locks
Of prison gates;(30)
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(35)
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?(40)
QUINCE:
It is the lady that Pyramus must love.
FLUTE:
Nay, faith, let not me 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.(45)
BOTTOM:
An I may hide my face, let me play Thisbe too. I'll
speak in a monstrous little voice: ‘Thisne, Thisne!’ [Then
speaking small] ‘Ah Pyramus, my lover dear! Thy Thisbe
dear, and lady dear!’
QUINCE:
No, no, you must play Pyramus; and, Flute, you(50)
Thisbe.
BOTTOM:
Well, proceed.
QUINCE:
Robin Starveling, the tailor.
STARVELING:
Here, Peter Quince.
QUINCE:
Robin Starveling, you must play Thisbe's mother.(55)
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. (60)
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(65)
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.(70)
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(75)
you an't were 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.(80)
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 color
beard, your orange-tawny beard, your purple-in-grain(85)
beard, or your French crown color beard, your perfect
yellow.
QUINCE:
Some of your French crowns have no hair at all,
and then you will play barefaced. But, masters, here are
your parts; and I am to entreat you, request you, and(90)
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 dogg'd with company, and our devices
known. In the meantime I will draw a bill of properties,(95)
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 perfect;
adieu.
QUINCE:
At the duke's oak we meet.(100)
BOTTOM:
Enough; hold, or cut bow-strings.

Exeunt