Modern English A Midsummer Night’s Dream Ebook Sample: Act 1, Scene 2

Peter Quince, an Athenian carpenter, greeted his amateur acting company as they trouped into his workshop. Philostrate had announced to all Athens that a play would be performed in front of the Duke, on his wedding day, as part of the wedding celebrations. Any group of citizens could submit their idea and one would be chosen when the time came.
Quince surveyed his would-be actors. ‘Is all our company here?’ he said.

Nick Bottom was a weaver. He was thick-set, sturdy and rugged, and as enthusiastic as anyone could be about the art of acting. ‘It would be best to call the role, man by man, according to your list,’ he said.

Quince lifted a sheet of paper from his workbench. ‘This is the list of everyone in Athens thought fit to take part in the play to be performed before the Duke and the Duchess on their wedding day, at night,’ he said.

He was about to begin the roll-call when Bottom raised his hand. ‘First, good Peter Quince,’ he said, ‘say what the play’s about, then read the names of the actors, and so bring it to an end.’

‘Well, our play is “The sad comedy and cruel death of Pyramus and Thisbe.”‘

Bottom nodded wisely at the assembled company. ‘A very good piece of work, I assure you,’ he said, ‘and very entertaining. Now, good Peter Quince, call the names out from your list. Gentlemen, spread yourselves out.’

Quince adjusted his spectacles and cleared his throat. ‘Answer as I call you,’ he said. ‘Nick Bottom, the weaver?’

Bottom snapped to attention. ‘Ready!’ he exclaimed. ‘Tell me the part I’m to play and then carry on.’

‘You, Nick Bottom, are to play Pyramus.’ Quince put his finger on the next name but before he could call it Bottom interrupted.

‘Who’s Pyramus? A lover or a great hero?’

‘A lover, who kills himself, most heroically, for love.’

Bottom smiled. ‘That will bring out some tears if it’s performed well. If I do it the audience will have to look to their eyes. I’ll storm my passion and rave my grief mightily. And so on and so forth. But my real gift is for playing heroic parts. I can be a great Hercules, or a reveller, enough to bring the house down.’ He placed his hand over his heart and took up a declamatory pose:

‘The raging rocks,
And shivering shocks,
Shall break the locks
Of prison gates;
And Phoebus’ car
Shall shine from far
And make and mar
The foolish fates.
High stuff!
Now name the rest of the players.’

He smiled round at the company. ‘That was the Hercules style, the heroic method. A lover is more tear-jerking.’

Quince waited until he was sure Bottom had finished then adjusted his spectacles again. ‘Francis Flute, the bellows-mender?’

Francis Flute had been hiding nervously behind his friend, Tom Snout. He raised his hand tentatively, and in a high-pitched voice, registered his presence: ‘Here, Peter Quince.’

Quince looked over his spectacles at the young bellows-mender. ‘Flute, you must take on Thisbe.’

‘Who’s Thisbe,’ said Flute. ‘A wandering knight?’

‘It’s the lady that Pyramus loves.’

Flute shook his head vigorously. ‘No, please, don’t make me play a woman. I’ve got a beard coming.’

‘It doesn’t matter,’ said Quince, kindly. ‘You can play it in a mask. And you can speak in as tiny a voice as you like.’

Bottom clasped his hands together. ‘If I can hide my face, let me play Thisbe too,’ he said. ‘I can speak in a wonderfully high voice.’ He put his hands round his mouth to form a trumpet and lowered his voice to a deep bass: ‘Thisne, Thisne!’ he called. Then he ran to the other side of the workshop. ‘Ah!’ he exclaimed in a falsetto, ‘Pyramus, my lover dear! Your Thisbe dear, and lady dear!’

They all stared, speechless, as he looked from one to the other for approval. Quince shook his head and tutted. ‘No, no,’ he said. ‘You must play Pyramus. And you, Flute, Thisby.’

Bottom drew himself up. ‘Well, carry on,’ he said.

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About A Midsummer Night’s Dream Ebook
  • Translated as an easy to read, exciting teenage novel
  • Follows the acts & scenes of original A Midsummer Night’s Dream text
  • Allows you to master the plot, characters & language of A Midsummer Night’s Dream
Ebook Resources

Search all of Shakespeare’s sonnets:

Sonnet 1, Sonnet 2, Sonnet 3, Sonnet 4, Sonnet 5, Sonnet 6, Sonnet 7, Sonnet 8, Sonnet 9, Sonnet 10, Sonnet 11, Sonnet 12, Sonnet 13, Sonnet 14, Sonnet 15, Sonnet 16, Sonnet 17, Sonnet 18, Sonnet 19, Sonnet 20, Sonnet 21, Sonnet 22, Sonnet 23, Sonnet 24, Sonnet 25, Sonnet 26, Sonnet 27, Sonnet 28, Sonnet 29, Sonnet 30, Sonnet 31, Sonnet 32, Sonnet 33, Sonnet 34, Sonnet 35, Sonnet 36, Sonnet 37, Sonnet 38, Sonnet 39, Sonnet 40, Sonnet 41, Sonnet 42, Sonnet 43, Sonnet 44, Sonnet 45, Sonnet 46, Sonnet 47, Sonnet 48, Sonnet 49, Sonnet 50, Sonnet 51, Sonnet 52, Sonnet 53, Sonnet 54, Sonnet 55, Sonnet 56, Sonnet 57, Sonnet 58, Sonnet 59, Sonnet 60, Sonnet 61, Sonnet 62, Sonnet 63, Sonnet 64, Sonnet 65, Sonnet 66, Sonnet 67, Sonnet 68, Sonnet 69, Sonnet 70, Sonnet 71, Sonnet 72, Sonnet 73, Sonnet 74, Sonnet 75, Sonnet 76, Sonnet 77, Sonnet 78, Sonnet 79, Sonnet 80, Sonnet 81, Sonnet 82, Sonnet 83, Sonnet 84, Sonnet 85, Sonnet 86, Sonnet 87, Sonnet 88, Sonnet 89, Sonnet 90, Sonnet 91, Sonnet 92, Sonnet 93, Sonnet 94, Sonnet 95, Sonnet 96, Sonnet 97, Sonnet 98, Sonnet 99, Sonnet 100, Sonnet 101, Sonnet 102, Sonnet 103, Sonnet 104, Sonnet 105, Sonnet 106, Sonnet 107, Sonnet 108, Sonnet 109, Sonnet 110, Sonnet 111, Sonnet 112, Sonnet 113, Sonnet 114, Sonnet 115, Sonnet 116, Sonnet 117, Sonnet 118, Sonnet 119, Sonnet 120, Sonnet 121, Sonnet 122, Sonnet 123, Sonnet 124, Sonnet 125, Sonnet 126, Sonnet 127, Sonnet 128, Sonnet 129, Sonnet 130, Sonnet 131, Sonnet 132, Sonnet 133, Sonnet 134, Sonnet 135, Sonnet 136, Sonnet 137, Sonnet 138, Sonnet 139, Sonnet 140, Sonnet 141, Sonnet 142, Sonnet 143, Sonnet 144, Sonnet 145, Sonnet 146, Sonnet 147, Sonnet 148, Sonnet 149, Sonnet 150, Sonnet 151, Sonnet 152, Sonnet 153, Sonnet 154,
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