Document: All > Shakespeare > Comedies > A Midsummer Night's Dream > Act I, scene II
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[Enter QUINCE, SNUG, BOTTOM, FLUTE, SNOUT, and
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 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 gallant 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
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 me not 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, 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 that 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
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
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 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 bow-strings.
A MIDSUMMER NIGHT'S DREAM