Athens. QUINCE'S house
Enter QUINCE, SNUG, BOTTOM FLUTE, SNOUT, and STARVELING
Is all our company here?
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 the Duchess on his wedding-day at night.
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 most
Cruel Death of Pyramus and Thisby.'
A very good piece of work, I assure you, and a merry. Now,
good Peter Quince, call forth your actors by the scroll. Masters,
Answer, as I call you. Nick Bottom, the weaver.
Ready. Name what part I am for, and proceed.
You, Nick Bottom, are set down for Pyramus.
What is Pyramus? A lover, or a tyrant?
A lover, that kills himself most gallant for love.
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.
Francis Flute, the bellows-mender.
Here, Peter Quince.
Flute, you must take Thisby on you.
What is Thisby? A wand'ring knight?
It is the lady that Pyramus must love.
Nay, faith, let not me 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.
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!'
No, no, you must play Pyramus; and, Flute, you Thisby.
Robin Starveling, the tailor.
Here, Peter Quince.
Robin Starveling, you must play Thisby's mother.
Tom Snout, the tinker.
Here, Peter Quince.
You, Pyramus' father; myself, Thisby's father; Snug, the
joiner, you, the lion's part. And, I hope, here is a play fitted.
Have you the lion's part written? Pray you, if it be, give it
me, for I am slow of study.
You may do it extempore, for it is nothing but roaring.
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.
That would hang us, every mother's son.
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.
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
Well, I will undertake it. What beard were I best to play
Why, what you will.
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.
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.
We will meet; and there we may rehearse most obscenely and
courageously. Take pains; be perfect; adieu.
At the Duke's oak we meet.
Enough; hold, or cut bow-strings.