Act I, Scene 2
A group of working men are putting together a play to perform
for the Duke and Duchess of Athens on the night of their wedding. This is their first meeting, and they are discussing the play and assigning roles.
Frank: A handyman
Tom: A metal-worker
1) Peter: When I call your name, say, “Here!” and I will tell you what part you’ll play. I have here the list with all of your names on it. Of all the men in Athens, you all are the best…the most qualified
…the only ones who volunteered to put on this play.
Nick: First, please…what is the play about?
Rob: You’ve seen the play, Nick?
Peter: I just wrote it last night!
Nick: One of the finest plays. I assure
you, gentlemen. Peter, call the roll and assign
the roles! Gentlemen – spread
2) Peter: Fine, fine. Nick! Nick? Are you here, Nick?
Nick: Here, Peter! Tell me, what role
will I play?
Peter: You, Nick, will play Pyramus.
Nick: If I play the part well enough, which I will, the audience
will be in tears! They’ll be crying like babies at how romantic
I am. But the thing is, Peter, I’m really much better suited to play a villain
a real tyrant
3) Peter: Frank?
Nick: [Interrupts Peter] A tyrant
– really a villain
. One of the great villains. [Begins acting – very dramatic
] From the tops of the mountains! From the top…to the crushing rocks below…below…below [voice fades]. I will find them! I will find them! And I will…
Frank: Here, Peter. What role
will I play?
Peter: You, Frank, will play Thisbe.
Frank: A wandering hero
? I could easily play the young hero
Peter: No. Thisbe is not a hero
Peter: No. Thisbe is the girl Pyramus is in love with.
Frank: A girl? A girl! No...no...no… I can’t play a girl! Look! I’m growing a beard.
Peter: [Examines Frank’s chin] No, I don’t see it. You will play Thisbe.
4) Nick: Wait! I can wear a mask and I can play Thisbe too! Listen [speaks in a high voice] Oh Pyramus! Oh Pyramus! I love you so much, Pyramus!
Frank: That’s a great idea! Let Nick play a girl.
Peter: No! Frank, you will play Thisbe and Nick, you will play Pyramus. Let me continue
Rob: Here, Peter!
Peter: Rob, you will play Thisbe’s mother.
Nick: Thisbe’s mother is not very pretty.
5) Peter: Tom?
Tom: Here, Peter!
Peter: You’ll play Pyramus’s father. I’ll play Thisbe’s father, and Steve, you’ll play the lion.
Steve: Do you have the lion’s part written? Can I have it? I know it will take me a long time to learn it.
Peter: There is no script
for the lion, Steve. You will perform
Steve: I’ll do what?
Peter: You’ll make it up on your own.
6) Nick: Wait! Let me play the lion! I’ll be the fiercest lion that ever walked on a stage. I’ll roar
. The audience
will be in awe
of my amazing
[roars]. The Duke, himself, will stand up and say, “Let the lion roar
again! Let him roar
Peter: No, no, Nick. You’ll be too realistic
. You’ll be so much like a real lion that you’ll scare
the ladies in the audience
and we’ll all be put in prison for threatening members of royalty
Nick: I can roar
gently [roars softly]. I can roar
so softly that people in the audience
would feel safe giving me their babies, their infant children. I will roar
so gently, so softly, that the Duke will compare
to the song of a nightingale or a sweet spring bird.
Peter: Nick - the only part you may play is Pyramus. That’s it. You can play one part - Pyramus.
Peter. That’s fine. Wear a beard. But you can only play Pyramus. Now - are we all set? Does everyone know their part?
Peter: Good - let’s meet tonight in the forest
. I know a clearing
where we can rehearse without anyone seeing us. Be sure you’re on time!