A Midsummer Night's Dream By William Shakespeare Act I: Scene 2

SCENE II. The Same. A Room in a Cottage.

[Enter SNUG, BOTTOM, FLUTE, SNOUT, QUINCE, and STARVELING.]

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 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 Thisby.

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 gallantly 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 Thisby on you.

FLUTE
What is Thisby? a wandering knight?

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.

BOTTOM
An I may hide my face, let me play Thisby too:
I'll speak in a monstrous little voice; — 'Thisne, Thisne!' —
'Ah, Pyramus, my lover dear; thy Thisby dear! and lady dear!'

QUINCE
No, no, you must play Pyramus; and, Flute, you Thisby.

BOTTOM
Well, proceed.

QUINCE
Robin Starveling, the tailor.

STARVELING
Here, Peter Quince.

QUINCE
Robin Starveling, you must play Thisby's mother. —
Tom Snout, the tinker.

SNOUT
Here, Peter Quince.

QUINCE
You, Pyramus' father; myself, Thisby'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 perfect 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 to-morrow 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,
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.

BOTTOM
Enough; hold, or cut bow-strings.

[Exeunt.]

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