SCENE II. Athens. QUINCE'S house.
Enter QUINCE, SNUG, BOTTOM, FLUTE, SNOUT, and STARVELING
Is all our company here?
Carpenter not just buildings and houses, they had a knowledge of wood in general. Known as an elite tradesman.
You were best to call them generally, man by man,
according to the scrip.
Scrip meaning a text or a script.
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
Marry meaning an expression of (real or playful) impatience.
most cruel death of Pyramus and Thisby.
Pyramus and Thisbe The story of Pyramus and Thisbe, the story that set the stage for Romeo and Juliet.
A very good piece of work, I assure you, and a
merry. Now, good Peter Quince, call forth your
Merry meaning hilarious, uproarious, or hysterical.
actors by the scroll. Masters, spread yourselves.
Answer as I call you. Nick Bottom, the weaver.
Weaver notorious for giving short measure, and cheating the customer.
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.
Gallant meaning showy, ostentacious, or fancy.
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
Condole meaning to lament, grieve, or express great sorrow
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
Francis Flute, the bellows-mender.
Bellows Mender a bellow was a tool used to blow air into a fire. Made from wood covered partially in leather. Francis would be the person who fixes this tool most likely.
Here, Peter Quince.
Flute, you must take Thisby on you.
What is Thisby? a wandering knight?
Wandering Knight or Knight-Errant was in fact a wandering knight looking for adventures to exhibit one’s skills, prowess, and generosity.
It is the lady that Pyramus must love.
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.
Shakespeare and Gender During this period of time, female characters were played by men. Within this play, Flute would perform as Thisbe in a mask.
An I may hide my face, let me play Thisby too, I'll
speak in a monstrous little voice. 'Thisne,
Thisne,' 'Ah, Pyramus, lover dear! thy Thisby dear,
and lady dear!'
No, no, you must play Pyramus: and, Flute, you Thisby.
Robin Starveling, the tailor.
Tailor similar to a weaver. Clearly someone who works on making a fixing garments.
Here, Peter Quince.
Robin Starveling, you must play Thisby's mother.
Tom Snout, the tinker.
Tinker an archaic term for someone who worked as a tinsmith. Mostly mending household utensils.
Here, Peter Quince.
You, Pyramus' father: myself, Thisby's father:
Snug, the joiner, you, the lion's part: and, I
Joiner most furniture during this time was made with wood planks and nails. Once proper joints started becoming a regular part of furniture, the men who specialized in this were called joiners.
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.
Slow of study meaning that Snug is declaring himself a person who does not learn things quickly.
You may do it extempore, for it is nothing but roaring.
Extempore meaning without preparation, improvised, for the occasion.
Let me play the lion too: I will roar, that I will
PERFORMANCE TIP: Bottom is a goof. Like most of his dialogue, this statement is among one of the many goofy things he says. Lean into the sillyness with a clear confidence.
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 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 any
sucking dove, I will roar you an 'twere any
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:
therefore you must needs play Pyramus.
Well, I will undertake it. What beard were I best
to play it in?
Why, what you will.
I will discharge it in either your straw-colour
Straw coloured blonde most likely.
beard, your orange-tawny beard, your purple-in-grain
beard, or your French-crown-colour beard, your
Perfect Yellow a crown was a coin that had either the king or queen stamoped on it. They were made of gold therefore the perfect yellow.
Some of your French crowns have no hair at all, and
then you will play bare-faced. But, masters, here
are your parts: and I am to entreat you, request
you and desire you, to con them by to-morrow night,
Con meaning to learn by heart. They are asked, as most actors are, to memorize their lines.
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
Dogged possibly meaning a ferocious or fierce crowd.
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.
Bow-strings this statment could mean many things, but most likely, it is Bottom saying that the group should stick with what they have planned for Pyramus and Thisbe, or abandon the the whole thing. Quitting while they’re ahead.