A Midsummer Night’s Dream

Helena: And, for this intelligence If I have thanks, it is a dear expense. But herein mean I to enrich my pain, To have his sight thither and back again. Is all our company here?
Bottom: 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 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. Marry, our play is “The most lamentable comedy and 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. Answer as I call you. Nick Bottom, the weaver.
Bottom: Ready. Name what part I am for, and proceed. You, Nick Bottom, are set down for Pyramus.
Bottom: What is Pyramus- a lover or a tyrant? A lover that kills himself most gallant for love.
Bottom: This was lofty. Now name the rest of the players. Francis flute, the bellows-mender.
Flute: Here, Peter Quince. Flute, you must take Thisbe on you.
Flute: What is Thisbe- a wand’ring knight? It is the lady that Pyramus must love,
Flute: Nay, faith, let me not play a woman. I have a beard coming. 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!” No, no, you must play Pyramus- and, Flute, you Thisbe.
Bottom: Well, proceed. Robin Starveling, the tailor.
Starveling: Here, Peter Quince. Robin Starveling, you must play Thisbe’s mother.- Tom Snout, the tinker.
Snout: Here, Peter Quince. You, Pyramus’ 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 to me, for I am slow of study. 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!” 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.
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 as gently as any sucking dove. I will roar you an ’twere any nightingale. (roar) 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. 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 perfit. Adieu. At the Duke’s Oak we meet.
Bottom: Are we all met? Pat, pat. And here’s a marvels convenient place for rehearsal. This green plot shall be our stage, this hawthorn brake our tiring-house, and we will do it in action as we will do it before the Duke.
Bottom: Peter Quince? What sayest thou, bully Bottom?
Bottom: Not a whit! I have a device to make all well. Write me a prologue, and let the prologue seem to say that we will do no harm with our swords and that Pyramus is not killed indeed. And, for the more better assurance, tell them that I, Pyramus, am not Pyramus, but Bottom the weaver. This will put them out of fear. Well, we will have such a prologue, and it shall be written in eight and six.
Bottom: Nay, you must name his name, and half his face must be seen through the lion’s neck, and he himself must speak through, saying thus, or to the same defect: “Ladies,” or “Fair ladies, I would wish you,” or “I would request you,” or “I would entreat you not to fear, not to tremble! My life for yours. If you think I come hither as a lion, it were pity of my life. No, I am no such thing. I am a man as other men are.” And there indeed let him name his name and tell them plainly he is Snug the Joiner. Well, it shall be so. But there is two hard things: that is, to bring the moonlight into a chamber, for you know Pyramus and Thisbe meet by moonlight.
Bottom: A calendar, a calendar! Look in the almanac. Find out moonshine, find out moonshine. Yes, it doth shine that night.
Bottom: Why, then, may you leave a casement of the great chamber window, where we play, open, and the moon may shine in at the casement. Ay, or else one must come in with a bush of thorns and a lantern and say he comes to disfigure or to present the person of Moonshine. Then there is another thing: we must have a wall in the great chamber, for Pyramus and Thisbe, says the story, did talk through the chink of a wall.
Bottom: Some man must present Wall. And let him have some plaster, or some loam, or some roughcast about him to signify wall, or let him hold his fingers thus, and through that cranny shall Pyramus and Thisbe whisper. If that may be, then all is well. Come, sit down, every mother’s son. And rehearse your parts. Pyramus, you begin. When you have spoken your speech, enter into that brake, and so everyone according to his cue.
Robin: What hempen homespuns have we swagg’ring hereSo near the cradle of the Fairy Queen?What, a play toward? I’ll be an auditor-An actor too perhaps, if I see cause. Speak, Pyramus.- Thisbe, stand forth.
Bottom (as Pyramus): Thisbe, the flowers of odious savors sweet- Odors, (odors!)
Flute: Must I speak now? Ay, marry, must you, for you must understand he goes but to see a noise that he heard and is to come again.
Flute (as Thisbe): Most radiant Pyramus, most lily-white of hue,Of color like the red rose on triumphant brier,Most brisky juvenal and eke most lovely Jew,As true as truest horse, that yet would never tire.I’ll meet thee, Pyramus, at Ninny’d tomb. “Ninus’ tomb,” man! Why, you must not speak that yet. That you answer to Pyramus. You speak all your part at once, cues and all.-Pyramus, enter. Your cue is past. It is “never tire.”
Bottom (as Pyramus): If I were fair, [fair] Thisbe, I were only thine. O monstrous! O strange! We are haunted. Pray, masters, fly, masters! Help!
Bottom: What do you see? You see an ass-head of your own, do you? Bless thee, Bottom, bless thee! Thou art translated!
Bottom: …I will get Peter Quince to write a ballad of this dream. It shall be called “Bottom’s Dream” because it hath no bottom; and I will sing it in the latter end of the play, before the Duke. Peradventure, to make it the more gracious, I shall sing it at her death. Have you sent to Bottom’s house? Is he come home yet?
Flute: If he come not, then the play is marred. It goes not forward, doth it? It is not possible. You have not a man in all Athens able to discharge Pyramus as he.
Flute: No, he hath simply the best wit of any handicraftman in Athens. Yea, and the best person too, and he is a very paramour for a sweet voice.
Bottom: Where are these lads? Where are these ladies? Bottom! O most courageous day! O most happy hour!
Bottom: Masters, I am to discourse wonders. But ask me not what; for, if I tell you, I am not true Athenian. I will tell you everything right as it fell out. Let us hear, sweet Bottom.