ACT I
Scene 2
 

Athens. QUINCE'S house

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

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 more condoling.

QUINCE
Francis Flute, the bellows-mender.

FLUTE
Here, Peter Quince.

QUINCE
Flute, you must take Thisby on you.

FLUTE
What is Thisby? A wand'ring 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 Thisby too.
I'll speak in a monstrous little voice: 'Thisne, Thisne!'
[Then speaking small] 'Ah Pyramus, my 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 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-fac'd 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 perfect yellow.

QUINCE
Some of your French crowns have no hair at all, and then
you will play bare-fac'd. 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 dogg'd 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.

Exeunt