Internet Shakespeare Editions

About this text

  • Title: A Midsummer Night's Dream (Modern)
  • Editor: Suzanne Westfall
  • ISBN: 978-1-55058-465-3

    Copyright Suzanne Westfall. This text may be freely used for educational, non-profit purposes; for all other uses contact the Editor.
    Author: William Shakespeare
    Editor: Suzanne Westfall
    Not Peer Reviewed

    A Midsummer Night's Dream (Modern)

    Enter Quince the carpenter, Snug the joiner, Bottom the weaver, Flute the bellows mender, Snout the tinker, and Starveling the tailor.
    Quince Is all our company here?
    270Bottom You were best to call them generally, man by man, according to the script.
    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 275day at night.
    Bottom First, good Peter Quince, say what the play treats on, then read the names of the actors, and so grow on to a point.
    Quince Marry, our play is "The Most Lamentable 280Comedy, 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 285weaver.
    Bottom Ready! Name what part I am for and proceed.
    Quince You, Nick Bottom, are set down for Pyramus.
    290Bottom What is Pyramus? A lover, or a tyrant?
    Quince A lover that kills himself most gallantly 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. 295I will move storms; I will condole in some measure. To the rest yet, my chief humor 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 300from far,
    And make and mar
    The foolish Fates!"
    This was lofty. Now name the rest of the players. This is Ercles' vein, a tyrants vein. A lover is more condoling.
    Quince Francis Flute the bellows mender.
    305Flute Here, Peter Quince.
    Quince You must take Thisby on you.
    Flute What is Thisby? A wandering knight?
    Quince It is the lady that Pyramus must love.
    Flute Nay, faith, let not me play a woman! I have a 310beard coming.
    Quince That's all one; you shall play it in a mask, and you may speak as small as you will.
    Bottom And I may hide my face, let me play Thisby too! I'll speak in a monstrous little voice: "Thisne, Thisne!" "Ah, 315Pyramus, my lover dear, thy Thisby dear, and lady dear!"
    Quince No, no! You must play Pyramus, and Flute, you Thisby.
    Bottom Well, proceed.
    320Quince Robin Starveling the tailor.
    Starveling Here, Peter Quince.
    Quince Robin Starveling, you must play Thisby's mother. Tom Snout, the tinker.
    325Snout Here, Peter Quince.
    Quince You, Pyramus' father; myself, Thisby's father; Snug the joiner, you the lion's part. And I hope there is a play fitted.
    Snug Have you the lion's part written? Pray you, if 330be, 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 335that I will make the duke say, "Let him roar again! Let him roar again!
    Quince If you should do it too terribly you would fright the duchesse and the ladies that they would shriek, and that were enough to hang us all.
    340All That would hang us, every mother's son.
    Bottom 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 345any sucking dove. I will roar and 'twere any nightingale.
    Quince 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. 350Therefore 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-color 355beard, your orange tawny beard, your purple-in-graine beard, or your French-crown colored beard, your perfect yellow.
    Quince Some of your French crowns have no hair at all, and then you will play bare-faced. But masters, here 360are 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 we will rehearse. For if we meet in the city, we shall be dogged with company and our 365devices known. In the mean time, 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 more obscenely and courageously. Take pains, be perfect. Adieu.
    370Quince At the duke's oak we meet.
    Bottom Enough! Hold or cut bow-strings.