Act 1, Scene 2

[Enter six men who, judging by their dress and speech, are uneducated manual laborers. Shakespeare achieves comedic effect from the manner in which they attempt to act sophisticated. Quince is a carpenter, Snug is a joiner, Bottom is a weaver, Flute is a bellows-mender, Snout is a tinker, and Starveling is a 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
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.

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.

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 humor 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 Thisbe on you.

Flute

What is Thisbe? 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 Thisbe too. I'll
speak in a monstrous little voice: “Thisne,
Thisne!” — “Ah Pyramus, my lover dear! Thy Thisbe dear and lady dear!”

Quince

No, no, you must play Pyramus; and Flute, you
Thisbe.

Bottom

Well, proceed.

Quince

Robin Starveling, the tailor?

Starveling

Here, Peter Quince.

Quince

Robin Starveling, you must play Thisbe's mother.
Tom Snout, the tinker?

Snout

Here, Peter Quince.

Quince

You, Pyramus's father; myself, Thisbe'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, gentlemanlike 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-color
beard, your orange-tawny beard, your purple-in-grain
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
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.

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 bowstrings.
[Exit all.]
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