[Enter a group of six men who, judging from their dress and speech, are poorly educated working men. They have decided to contribute to Theseus’ wedding festivities by staging a play which one of them, Quince, has written for the occasion.]
You were best to call them generally, man by
man, according to the scrip.
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
First, good Peter Quince, say what the play treats on,
then read the names of the actors, and so grow to a
Mary, our play is The Most Lamentable Comedy and
Most Cruel Death of Pyramus and Thisbe.
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.
Answer as I call you. Nick Bottom, the weaver?
Ready. Name what part I am for, and proceed.
You, Nick Bottom, are set down for Pyramus.
What is Pyramus? A lover or a tyrant?
A lover, that kills himself most gallantly for love.
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 split.
This was lofty. — Now name the rest of the players. — This is
Ercles' vein, a tyrant's vein; a lover is more condoling.
Francis Flute, the bellows-mender?
Flute, you must take Thisbe on you.
What is Thisbe? A wandering knight?
It is the lady that Pyramus must love.
Nay, faith, let not me play a woman. I have a
That's all one. You shall play it in a mask, and
you may speak as small as you will.
An I may hide my face, let me play Thisbe too. I'll speak
in a monstrous little voice: “Thisne, Thisne!” —
“Ah Pyramus, my lover dear!" – "Thy Thisbe dear and lady dear!”
No, no, you must play Pyramus; and Flute, you
Robin Starveling, the tailor?
Robin Starveling, you must play Thisbe's mother.
You, Pyramus's father; myself, Thisbe's father.
Snug the joiner, you the lion's part. And I hope here is a
Have you the lion's part written? Pray you, if it be,
give it me, for I am slow of study.
You may do it extempore, for it is nothing but
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
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.
That would hang us, every mother's son.
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.
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, gentlemanlike man.
Therefore you must needs play Pyramus.
Well, I will undertake it. What beard were I best
I will discharge it in either your straw-color
beard, your orange-tawny beard, your purple-in-grain
beard, or your French-crown-color beard, your perfect
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
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.
We will meet, and there we may rehearse most
obscenely and courageously. Take pains; be perfect.
At the Duke's oak we meet.
Enough. Hold or cut bowstrings.