A Midsummer Night’s Dream – Act 3 Scene 1


BOTTOM: Are we all here? Right on time. This is the perfect place to rehearse. This clearing will be the stage, and this hawthorn bush will be our dressing room Let’s put on our play exactly as we’ll perform it for the duke. Peter Quince— What is it, jolly Bottom? there are … things in this comedy of Pyramus and Thisbe that will never work. First of all, Pyramus has to take out a sword to kill himself, which the ladies in the audience won’t be able to stand. What should we do about that? SNOUT: By God, that’s a real problem, it’s true. I think we’ll have to leave out all the killing, come to think of it. Not at all! I’ve got a plan that will fix everything. Write me a prologue that I can recite to the audience before the play starts. And to make it even clearer, we can tell them that I’m playing Pyramus but I’m not really Pyramus—really, I’m Bottom the weaver. That’ll keep them from being afraid. All right, we’ll have a prologue then We’ll write it in alternating eight- and six-syllable lines, just like in a ballad. No add a couple more syllables. Make it eight and eight. Won’t the ladies be scared of the lion? I’m really worried about that. Sirs, you ought to think to yourself, bringing in—God forbid! a lion amongst ladies is really terrible. There’s no scarier wild bird than the living lion, and we should remember that. So we need another prologue to tell everyone he’s not a real lion. No we can just announce the actor’s name, and let his face show through the lion costume, and have him say something himself. He should say the following, or something else to the same defect — “Ladies,” or “Lovely ladies,” “I would like to ask you” or “I would like to request of you” or “I would like to beg you” “not to be afraid, and not to tremble with fear. I value your lives as highly as my own. If you thought I was a real lion, I would be risking my life. But no, I am not at all a lion. I am a man, just like other men.” And then he should say his name, and tell them plainly that he’s Snug the carpenter. All right that’s what we’ll do then. But there are two things we still have to figure out. How are we going to bring moonlight into a room? Because, you know, Pyramus and Thisbe meet by moonlight. Will the moon be shining on the night we’re performing our play? We need a calendar! Look in the almanac. Look up moonshine, look up moonshine! Yes the moon will shine that night. Well then, you can leave one of the windows open in the big hall where we’ll be performing, and the moon can shine in through the window. Yes or else someone will have to come in carrying a bundle of sticks and a lantern and say he’s come to represent or to disfigure the character of Moonshine, But there’s still another problem: we need to have a wall in the big hall, because according to the story, Pyramus and Thisbe talked through a little hole in a wall. You’ll never be able to bring in a wall. What do you think, Bottom? Someone should play the part of Wall. He can have some plaster or clay or limestone or something on him to show the audience he’s a wall. He can hold his fingers in a V-shape like this, and Pyramus and Thisbe can whisper to each other through that little crack. If we can do that, everything will be all right. Now sit down, everybody, and rehearse your parts Pyramus you start. When you have said your lines, go hide in that bush Everyone else, go there too when you’re not onstage. Who are these country bumpkins swaggering around so close to where the fairy queen is sleeping? What? Are they about to put on a play? I’ll watch. And I’ll act in it, too, if I feel like it. Speak, Pyramus. Thisbe, come forward. Thisbe flowers with sweet odious smells— “Odors,” “odors.” EXAGGERATED “odors.” EXAGGERATED odors and smells are like your breath, my dearest Thisbe dear. But what’s that, a voice! Wait here a while. I’ll be right back! (to himself) That’s the strangest Pyramus I’ve ever seen. Am I supposed to talk now? Yes, you are. You’re supposed to show that you understand that Pyramus just went to check on a noise he heard and is coming right back. (as THISBE) Most radiant Pyramus, you are as white as a lily, and the color of a red rose on a splendid rosebush, a very lively young man and also a lovely Jew. You are as reliable as a horse that never gets tired. I’ll meet you, Pyramus, at Ninny’s grave. That’s “Ninus’s grave,” man. And don’t say all of that yet. You’re supposed to say some of it as a reply to Pyramus. You just said all your lines at once, cues and all.— Pyramus, enter. You missed your cue. It’s “never get tired.” (as THISBE) As reliable as a horse that never gets tired. (as PYRAMUS) If I were handsome, my lovely Thisbe, I would still want only you. Help! It’s a monster! We’re being haunted. Run, everyone, run! I’ll follow you. I’ll run you around in circles Sometimes I’ll take the shape of a horse, sometimes I’ll take the shape of a hound or a pig or a headless bear. Sometimes I’ll turn into fire! And I’ll neigh like a horse and bark like a hound and grunt like a pig and roar like a bear and burn and burn like a fire at every turn. Why are they running away? This is some joke of theirs to scare me. Oh, Bottom, you’ve changed! What do you think I’ve got on my head? What do you think I’ve got on my head? You’re acting like an ass, don’t you think? God bless you, Bottom, God bless you. You’ve been changed. Reborn. I see what they’re up to. They want to make an ass of me, to scare me if they can. But I won’t leave this spot, no matter what they do. I’ll walk up and down and sing a song so they’ll know I’m not afraid. The blackbird with its black feathers And its orange-and-tan beak, The thrush with its clear voice, The wren with its small, piping chirp— (waking up) What angel is this who’s waking me up from my bed of flowers? (singing)
 The finch, the sparrow, and the lark, The gray cuckoo with his simple song That many men hear But they don’t dare say no to it— Of course they don’t say “no”! Who’d waste his time talking to such a stupid bird? Who’d bother to accuse a bird of lying? even if the bird were telling him that his wife was cheating on him? Please sing again, sweet human. I love to listen to your voice, and I love to look at your body. I know this is the first time I’ve ever seen you, but you’re so wonderful that I can’t help swearing to you that…..I love you I don’t think you’ve got much of a reason to love me. It’s too bad some mutual friend of theirs doesn’t introduce them. No, I’m just kidding. You’re as wise as you are beautiful. No, that’s not true. But if I were smart enough to get out of this forest, I’d be wise enough to satisfy myself. Don’t bother wishing you could leave this forest, because you’re going to stay here whether you want to or not. I’m no ordinary fairy. I rule over the summer, and I love you. So come with me. I’ll give you fairies as servants, and they’ll bring you jewels from the depths of the ocean, and sing to you while you sleep on a bed of flowers. And I’ll turn you into a spirit like us, so you won’t die as humans do.— Come here, Peaseblossom, Cobweb, Moth, and Mustardseed! Ready Me too. Me too. Ready Where should we go? Be kind and polite to this gentleman. Bow to him, fairies, and curtsy to him. Hello, mortal! Hello! Hello! Hello! I beg your pardon, sirs.— Please tell me your name, sir? Cobweb. I’d like to get to know you better, Mr. Cobweb. If I cut my finger, I’ll use you as a bandage to stop the bleeding.—And your name, sir? Peaseblossom. Please, give my regards to your mother, Mrs. Peapod, and your father, Mr. Peapod. Good Mr. Peaseblossom, I’d like to get to know you better too. —And you, may I ask what your name is, sir? Mustardseed. Good Mr. Mustardseed, I know you very well. Those cowardly, gigantic sides of beef have been responsible for many of your family members getting eaten as a condiment on beef. I swear to you, many members of your mustard family have made my eyes water before. I look forward to getting to know you better, Mr. Mustardseed. Take good care of him. Take him to my sleeping area. The moon looks sad to me. When she cries, all the little flowers cry too. they’re sad because someone is enforcing chastity on them —or is having it against her will. Keep my lover quiet. Bring him to me in silence.

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