William Shakespeare's "A Midsummer-Night's Dream" in the complete original text
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HOME > Plays > A Midsummer-Night's Dream > Act I. Scene II.

A Midsummer-Night's Dream

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Act I. Scene II.

Scene II.—The Same. A Room in QUINCE'S
House.

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

Quin. Is all our company here?
Bot. You were best to call them generally,
man by man, according to the scrip.
Quin. 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.
Bot. First, good Peter Quince, say what the
play treats on; then read the names of the
actors, and so grow to a point.
Quin. Marry, our play is. The most lament-
able comedy, and most cruel death of Pyramus
and Thisby.
Bot. 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.
Quin. Answer as I call you. Nick Bottom,
the weaver.
Bot. Ready. Name what part I am for, and
proceed.
Quin. You, Nick Bottom, are set down for
Pyramus.
Bat. What is Pyramus? a lover, or a tyrant?
Quin. A lover, that kills himself most gal-
lantly for love.
Bot. That will ask some tears in the true per-
forming 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.
Quin. Francis Flute, the bellows-mender.
Flu. Here, Peter Quince.
Quin. You must take Thisby on you.
Flu. What is Thisby? a wandering knight?
Quin. It is the lady that Pyramus must love.
Flu. Nay, faith, let not me play a woman; I
have a beard coming.
Quin. That's all one: you shall play it in a
mask, and you may speak as small as you will.
Bot. 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!'
Quin. No, no; you must play Pyramus; and
Flute, you Thisby.
Bot. Well, proceed.
Quin. Robin Starveling, the tailor.
Star. Here, Peter Quince.
Quin. Robin Starveling, you must play This-
by's mother. Tom Snout, the tinker.
Snout. Here, Peter Quince.
Quin. You, Pyramus's father; myself, This-
by'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.
Quin. You may do it extempore, for it is no-
thing but roaring.
Bot. 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.'
Quin. 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.
Bot. 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 as
'twere any nightingale.
Quin. 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.
Bot. Well, I will undertake it. What beard
were I best to play it in?
Quin. Why, what you will.
Bot. 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.
Quin. 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 moon-
light: 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. no
Bot. We will meet; and there we may re-
hearse more obscenely and courageously. Take
pains; be perfect; adieu.
Quin. At the duke's oak we meet.
Bot. Enough; hold, or cut bow-strings.
[Exeunt.
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