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By William Shakespeare Adapted by Erasmus Theatre


THESEUS: Now, fair Hippolyta, our wedding day is almost here. Four happy days bring
in a new moon. But how slow this old moon changes!

HIPPOLYTA: Four days will quickly turn into four nights and we will dream away the time.
Finally the new moon, like a silver bow in the sky, will look down upon our

Enter EGEUS.

EGEUS: Long live Theseus, our renowned duke!

THESEUS: Thanks, good Egeus. What’s the news with you?

EGEUS: I am here, full of anger, to complain about my daughter, Hermia. Step

forward Demetrius. – My noble lord, this man has my consent to marry her.
Step forward Lysander. – And my gracious duke, this man has cast a spell
over my child’s heart. You, you, Lysander, you have given poems and tokens
of love to my daughter. You have pretended to be in love with her, singing
songs of false love at her window by moonlight and stolen her heart turning
her obedience (which is due to me) to stubborn harshness. – And, my
gracious duke, if she will not agree to marry Demetrius, I beg the ancient
privilege of Athens. As she is mine, I can do what I want with her – according
to our law: she will either marry Demetrius or go to her death.

THESEUS: What say you, Hermia? Think carefully, fair maid. You should think of your
father as a god, since he is the one who gave you your beauty. Demetrius is
a worthy gentleman.

HERMIA: So is Lysander.

THESEUS: In himself he is. But since your father does not wish him to marry you,
Demetrius must be considered the worthier man.

HERMIA: I wish my father could see them with my eyes.

THESEUS: You must see them as your father does.

HERMIA: Your grace, pardon me for being so bold but, please tell me, what is the
worst that can happen to me if I refuse to marry Demetrius?

THESEUS: You will either be executed or you will never see another man again.
Therefore, fair Hermia, question your desires. You must decide whether you
will accept your father’s choice or live your life as a nun, caged in a cloister
forever. Take time to consider your choice but, by the next new moon, when
Hippolyta and I will be wed, be prepared either to die for disobedience to
your father’s will, marry Demetrius or to spend the rest of your life as a nun.

DEMETRIUS: Please, give in, sweet Hermia. – And Lysander, stop with your crazed
pursuit. I have more right to her than you.

LYSANDER: You have her father’s love, Demetrius. So marry him and let me have

EGEUS: Scornful Lysander, it is true, he has my love. That is why I give Hermia to

LYSANDER: (to Theseus) I am, my lord, as noble and rich as he is. But I love Hermia
more, and beauteous Hermia loves me – which is more important than all
these other boasts can be. Why shouldn’t I be able to marry her? Demetrius
– and I will say this to his face – courted Nedar’s daughter, Helena, and won
her soul. That sweet lady loves this unfaithful man. She adores him.

THESEUS: I must confess that I heard the same and meant to speak with Demetrius
about it. Egeus and Demetrius, go with me. I wish to talk with you both in
private. As for you, fair Hermia, look to fit your fancies to your father’s will, or
else the law of Athens surrenders you up to death, or to a vow of single life.
Come, my Hippolyta.

Exit all except LYSANDER and HERMIA.

LYSANDER: How now, my love? Why is your cheek so pale? Why do the roses there fade
so fast?

HERMIA: For want of rain which I could easily give them with all the tears from my

LYSANDER: Ay me! The course of true love never did run smooth.

HERMIA: O hell, to have your love chosen by another’s eyes.

LYSANDER: Listen to me, gentle Hermia. I have an aunt who is a rich widow and lives
outside of Athens. She has no children and thinks of me as a son. There we
could be married, where the strict laws of Athens cannot touch us. If you love
me, sneak out of your father’s house tomorrow night and meet me in the
wood, where I once met you with Helena. There, I shall wait for you.

HERMIA: My good Lysander! I swear by Cupid’s strongest bow and by his best gold-
tipped arrow, by all the vows that ever men have broken (and men have
broken more than women have ever made) – I swear that I will be there
tomorrow night to meet with you.

LYSANDER: Keep your promise my love. Look, here comes Helena.


HERMIA: Godspeed, fair Helena! Where are you going?

HELENA: Did you call me “fair”? Take it back. Demetrius thinks that you are fair. Your
eyes are like stars and your voice is more musical than a lark’s song in the
springtime. If the world were mine I would give it all up, all except Demetrius,
to be you. Oh, teach me how you look the way you do, and which tricks you
used to make Demetrius fall in love with you.

HERMIA: I frown upon him, yet he still loves me.

HELENA: Oh, if only your frowns would teach my smiles such skill!

HERMIA: I give him curses, yet he gives me love.

HELENA: Oh, if only my prayers could inspire such affection!

HERMIA: The more I hate, the more he follows me.

HELENA: The more I love, the more he hates me.

HERMIA: Helena, it is not my fault that he acts this way.

HELENA: That’s true, it is your beauty’s fault. I wish I had that fault!

HERMIA: Take comfort. He shall never see my face again. Lysander and I will leave
this place.

LYSANDER: Tomorrow night, when the moon shines on the water, (the time of night that
conceals lovers’ flights) we shall sneak out of Athens’ gates.

HERMIA: And in the woods where you and I used to lie on primrose beds, telling each
other sweet secrets – that is where Lysander and I will meet and turn our
backs on Athens. Farewell, sweet playfellow. Pray for us and I hope you win
your Demetrius! Keep your promise, Lysander.

LYSANDER: I will, my Hermia.


LYSANDER: Goodbye Helena. I hope that Demetrius will love you as much as you love


HELENA: How much happier some people are than others. People throughout Athens
think that I am as beautiful as Hermia. But what of that? Demetrius does not
think so. He refuses to admit what everyone else knows! But even though he
is making a mistake by chasing Hermia, I too am foolish since I chase him.
Love can make worthless things seem beautiful. Before Demetrius saw
Hermia, he showered me with promises and swore he would be mine
forever. I will go and tell him about fair Hermia’s flight and he will follow her. If
he thanks me for this information then it will be worth my pain in helping him
pursue my rival.


QUINCE: Is all our company here?

BOTTOM: It is best to call their names, man by man, according to the list.

QUINCE: This is a list of the names of all the men in Athens who are thought fit to
perform in our play for the duke and duchess on their wedding night.

BOTTOM: First, good Peter Quince, tell us what the play is about, then read the names
of the actors.

QUINCE: Our play is called “The Most Tragic Comedy and Most Cruel Death of
Pyramus and Thisbe”

BOTTOM: A very good piece of work, I assure you. Now, good Peter Quince, call forth
your actors.

QUINCE: Answer as I call you. – Nick Bottom, the weaver?

BOTTOM: Ready. Name what part I am for and then proceed.

QUINCE: You, Nick Bottom, are chosen for Pyramus.

BOTTOM: What is Pyramus? A lover or a tyrant?

QUINCE: A lover that kills himself very nobly for love.

BOTTOM: That will require tears for a true performance, and if I cry the audience will
cry with me. I will make tears pour like a rainstorm. – Name the rest. – But I
am really in the mood to play a tyrant. I could play a good Hercules, or any
other part that requires ranting and raving.

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.

Oh that was truly inspired. Now name the rest of the players. – This
performance was in the style of Hercules, the tyrant style. A lover would have
to weep more, of course.

QUINCE: Francis Flute, the bellows-mender?

FLUTE: Here, Peter Quince.

QUINCE: Flute, you will take the role of Thisbe.

FLUTE: What is Thisbe? A wandering knight?

QUINCE: It is the lady that Pyramus must love.

FLUTE: No, come on, don’t make me play a woman. I am growing a beard.

QUINCE: That does not matter. You will wear a mask and you can make your voice as
high as you will.

BOTTOM: In that case, I can wear a mask and play Thisbe too! First Pyramus: “Thisne,
Thisne!” – And then in a little voice: “Ah, Pyramus, my lover dear, your
Thisbe dear and lady dear!”

QUINCE: No, no. You must play Pyramus. – And Flute, you Thisbe.

BOTTOM: Well, go on.

QUINCE: I will be Thisbe’s father and Snug the joiner, you will play the lion.

SNUG: Do you have the lion’s part written down? If you do, please give it to me. It
takes me a long time to learn things.

QUINCE: You can improvise. It is nothing but roaring.

BOTTOM: Let me play the lion too. I will roar so well it will do any man’s heart good to
hear me. I will roar so well that the duke will say, “Let him roar again. Let him
roar again.”

QUINCE: If you roar too ferociously, you’ll scare the duchess and all the ladies and
make them scream. And that would get us all executed.

BOTTOM: Well then I will soften my voice so that I roar as gently as a baby dove. I’ll
roar like a sweet, peaceful nightingale.

QUINCE: You can play no part but Pyramus. Because Pyramus is a handsome man, a
most lovely, gentlemanlike man. Therefore you are the only one who can
play Pyramus.

BOTTOM: Well then, I’ll do it. What kind of beard should I wear for the part?

QUINCE: Whatever kind you like. Here are your scripts. Please learn them by
tomorrow night and meet in the palace wood, a mile outside of town. We will
rehearse there to keep our play a secret and not be disturbed. I pray you, do
not fail me.

BOTTOM: We’ll be there, and we will rehearse most courageously. Work hard and be
perfect. Adieu.


ROBIN: How now, spirit? Where are you wandering?

FAIRY: Over Hill, over dale,

Through bush, through brier,
Over park, over pale,
Through flood, through, fire.
I do wander everywhere
Swifter than the moon’s sphere.
And I serve the fairy queen
To scatter dew upon the green.
Farewell, you silly spirit, I’ll be gone
Our queen and all our elves come here anon.

ROBIN: The king is celebrating here tonight.

Be careful the queen comes not within his sight.
For Oberon is angry and full of rage
Because she has taken, as her page
A lovely boy stolen from an Indian king.
Jealous Oberon wants to take the child with him.
And now they never meet in green or meadow
By fountain clear or under starlight’s glow.
But they do fight and all their elves for fear
Creep into acorn cups and hide them there.

FAIRY: Either I mistake your shape or I guess right
You are that shrewd and cheeky sprite
Called Robin Goodfellow. Are you not he
That fright’s the maidens of the villagery?

ROBIN: You’ve guessed it right.

I am that merry wanderer of the night.
I joke to Oberon and make him smile
By tricking a horse who’s fat and vile
Into believing that I’m a young female foal.
And sometimes hide I in a drinking bowl.
The wisest aunt telling the saddest tale
Sometimes for a three foot stool mistakes me.
Then slip I from her bum and down falls she.
And everybody laughs and all do swear
A merrier hour was never wasted there.
But, look, Fairy! Here comes Oberon.

FAIRY: And here is my mistress. I wish that he were gone.

OBERON: Ill met by moonlight, proud Titania.

TITANIA: What Jealous Oberon? – Fairies be gone. I will not speak with him.

OBERON: Wait. Am I not your lord?

TITANIA: Then I must be your lady. But why have you travelled here from the farthest
reaches of India? I know that Hippolyta, your mistress and your warrior love,
is to be wed to Theseus and you come to give them your blessing.

OBERON: How can you say this when I know of your love for Theseus?

TITANIA: This is nothing but jealousy. And never since the beginning of midsummer
have we met without argument. The seasons alter. The spring, the summer,
the autumn, angry winter change and the world, confused, knows not which
is which. And all these problems come from our fighting, from our conflict.

OBERON: Do you admit it then? Why should Titania be angry with her Oberon? I only
ask for a little human boy.

TITANIA: Set your heart at rest. You will not have the child. His mother was a
worshipper of mine but she died in childbirth. So for her sake I will bring up
her boy and for her sake I will not part with him.

OBERON: How long do you intend to stay here?

TITANIA: Perhaps till after Theseus’ wedding day. If you will be patient and join our
dances, go with us. If not, leave me alone, and I will avoid the places where
you go.

OBERON: Give me that boy and I will go with you.

TITANIA: Not for your fairy kingdom – Fairies away!

I will cause a fight if I stay any longer.


OBERON: Well be gone. My gentle Puck, come here. I remember once I saw Cupid,
armed with his bow, flying between heaven and earth. He took aim at a
beautiful young maiden in the west and I saw Cupid’s arrow miss. It fell upon
a little western flower. Before milk-white, now purple from being wounded by
the arrow of love. Maidens call it “love-in-idleness”. Fetch me this flower. The
juice of it when poured on sleeping eyelids will make man or woman fall
madly in love with the next living creature that it sees. Fetch me the flower
and return as fast as you can.

ROBIN: I’ll fly around the world in forty minutes

OBERON: When I have this flower, I’ll watch Titania when she is asleep and pour the
juice on her eyes. The next thing that she sees when she wakes, be it lion,
bear, or wolf, or bull, she will fall madly in love with it. And before I cure her
I’ll make her give me the boy. But who comes here? I am invisible and will
listen secretly.


DEMETRIUS: I do not love you, therefore do not follow me. Where is Lysander and fair
Hermia? You told me they had come to this wood and here I am now, lost,
because I cannot find my Hermia. So go away and stop following me.

HELENA: You draw me to you like a magnet. If you did not attract me I would not
follow you.

DEMETRIUS: Do I ask you to follow me? Do I call you fair? Or rather do I, in plainest truth
tell you I do not, no, I cannot love you?

HELENA: And even for that I love you more. I am your spaniel Demetrius. Kick me,
strike me, neglect me, but allow me, unworthy as I am, to follow you.

DEMETRIUS: I’ll run from you and hide in the bushes and leave you to the mercy of wild

HELENA: The wildest beast is not as cruel as you.

DEMETRIUS: Let me go. Do not doubt that if you follow me I shall do thee mischief in the


HELENA: I will follow you and make a heaven out of this hell. Even if I die by the hand
I love.


OBERON: Do you have the flower?

ROBIN: Yes, here it is

OBERON: Give it to me. I know a bank where Titania sleeps sometimes at night. I’ll put
the juice of this flower on her eyes and fill her with horrid delusions and
desires. Take some of it yourself and search this wood for a sweet Athenian
lady who’s in love with a spiteful youth. Pour this on his eyes but do it
carefully so that the next thing he sees is the lady and meet me here before
the first cock crows.

ROBIN: Fear not, my lord. I am at your service.


OBERON: My sweet Titania, rest well. Whatever you see first when you wake will be
your true love. Love him and cherish him, be it a cat or bear, leopard or wild
boar with bristled hair. O, let something vile and horrid be near when you

Exit OBERON and enter LYSANDER and HERMIA.

LYSANDER: Fair love, you are faint from wandering around in this wood for so long, and
to tell you the truth, I have forgotten our way. We’ll rest, if you like, and wait
until daylight.

HERMIA: Yes, let’s do that Lysander. Find somewhere for you to sleep. I will rest my
head upon this bank.

LYSANDER: We can both sleep there.

HERMIA: No, good Lysander. For my sake, my dear, sleep a little further away.

LYSANDER: O sweet, I meant it in innocence.

HERMIA: It is only proper for a virtuous bachelor and a maid to be separated like this.
Good night, sweet love.

LYSANDER: Very well. Here is my bed. Sleep well, gentle Hermia.

HERMIA: And you too.

They fall asleep. Enter ROBIN.

ROBIN: I have been through the entire forest and I have not found any Athenian man
to use this flower on. (see’s LYSANDER and HERMIA) Wait a minute, who is
this? He is wearing Athenian clothes. This must be the man my master
spoke of who despised the Athenian maid. And here is the maiden sleeping
soundly on the damp and dirty ground. Pretty soul! (he puts the flower juice
on LYSANDER’S eyelids) I throw the power of this charm on your eyes so
that when you wake up, love will keep you from sleeping.

He exits and enter HELENA and DEMETRIUS.

HELENA: Stop, Demetrius! Stop, even if only to kill me.

DEMETRIUS: Get away from here and do not follow me.

HELENA: O, will you leave me alone in the dark?

DEMETRIUS: Stay here at your own risk. I am going on alone.


HELENA: Oh, I am out of breath from this foolish chase. Happy is Hermia, wherever
she is, for she has beautiful eyes. How did her eyes get so bright? Not from
crying. If that be the case, tears wash my eyes more than hers. No, no, I am

as ugly as a bear, for beasts that I meet run away in fear. So it is no surprise
that Demetrius runs away from me as if I were a monster. (she sees
LYSANDER) But who is here? Lysander, on the ground? Dead or asleep? I
see no blood, no wound. – Lysander if you are alive, good sir, awake.

LYSANDER: (waking) And run through fire for your sweet sake. Radiant Helena! I feel like
Mother Nature has allowed me to see into your heart. Where is Demetrius?
Oh, I would kill that name with my sword!

HELENA: Do not say that, Lysander. Say not so. Why? Because he loves your
Hermia? What does it matter? Hermia still loves you, so be content.

LYSANDER: Content with Hermia? No. I regret all the boring minutes I have spent with
her. I do not love Hermia. It is Helena I love. Who would not change a raven
for a dove?

HELENA: Why does everyone mock me? What have I done to deserve this? Is it not
enough, young man, that I never did or never will deserve a sweet look from
Demetrius’ eye? Must you make fun of my inadequacy? I thought you were a
much kinder person than this. Farewell.


LYSANDER: She does not see Hermia. – Hermia, sleep there and never come near me
again! I must go to Helena. I will use all my powers of love to honour her and
be her knight.

HERMIA: Help me, Lysander, help me! Get this snake off me! Oh me! What a terrible
dream I had! Lysander, look how I shake with fear. I thought a snake was
eating my heart while you sat smiling and watching. Lysander! – What, is he
gone? – Lysander, my lord! – No sound, no word? – Where are you? Speak
if you can hear me. Nothing? Then I suppose you are not nearby and I must
find you. Lysander!

She exits.


BOTTOM: Are we all here?

QUINCE: Right on time. This is the perfect place to rehearse. This green plot shall be
our stage, and this hawthorn bush our dressing room.

BOTTOM: Peter Quince –

QUINCE: What is it Bottom?

BOTTOM: There are things in this comedy of Pyramus and Thisbe that will never
please. First, Pyramus must draw a sword to kill himself, which the ladies in
the audience won’t be able to stand. What should we do?

SNUG: That’s a real problem.

FLUTE: I think we shall have to leave all the killing out.

BOTTOM: Not at all! I have a plan to make all well. Write me a prologue that says we
will do no harm with our swords and that Pyramus is not killed. And to make
it even clearer, tell them that I, Pyramus, am not Pyramus, but Bottom the
weaver. This will put them out of fear.

QUINCE: All right. We will have such a prologue.

SNUG: Won’t the ladies be scared of the lion?

FLUTE: I’m quite worried about that.

BOTTOM: A lion amongst ladies is a most dreadful thing. There is not a more fearful
animal than the lion.

SNUG: Therefore, we need another prologue to tell everyone that I am not a real

BOTTOM: No, we must say the actors’ name, and let his face show through his
costume. And he must speak saying, “Ladies” or “Fair ladies,” “I would wish
you” or “I would request you” or “I would pray you” “not to fear, not to
tremble. I am not at all a lion. I am a man, just like other men.” And then he
should tell them plainly he is Snug the joiner.

QUINCE: Well, it shall be so. But there are two other problems to solve. How are we to
bring moonlight into a room? For Pyramus and Thisbe meet by moonlight.

FLUTE: Will the moon be shining on the night we perform our play?

BOTTOM: We need a calendar! Look in the almanac! Look up moonshine!

QUINCE: Yes, the moon will shine that night.

BOTTOM: Well then we can leave the window open in the great hall so that the moon
will shine in.

QUINCE: Yes. Or else one must come in with a lantern and say he comes to represent
Moonshine. Then, there is another thing: we must have a wall. For Pyramus
and Thisbe, says the story, did talk through the crack of a wall.

BOTTOM: Someone should play the part of Wall. He can have some plaster or clay, or
some roughcast on him to show he is a wall. And let him hold his fingers like
this, and Pyramus and Thisbe can whisper through the crack.

QUINCE: Then all is well. Come, sit down, and rehearse your parts. Pyramus, you
must begin. When you have spoken your lines, go hide in that bush.

ROBIN: (to himself) Who are these country fellows swaggering around so close to
where the fairy queen is sleeping? Are they about to put on a play? I will
watch and perhaps be an actor too.

QUINCE: Speak, Pyramus. – Thisbe, come forward.

BOTTOM: (as PYRAMUS) Thisbe, the flowers with sweet odious –

QUINCE: “Odors,” “odors.”

BOTTOM: (as PYRAMUS) – odors are like your breath, my dearest Thisbe dear. But
listen, a voice! Stay here a while, and then I will appear to you.


ROBIN: That is the strangest Pyramus I have ever seen.


FLUTE: Must I speak now?

QUINCE: Yes, you must.

FLUTE: (as THISBE) Most radiant Pyramus, you are as white as a lily, and the colour
of a red rose on a splendid brier. As true as the truest horse that never will
tire. I’ll meet you, Pyramus, at Ninny’s tomb.

QUINCE: “Ninus’ tomb,” man. But you must not speak that yet. That you answer to
Pyramus. You just said all your lines at once, cues and all. – Pyramus, enter.
You missed your cue. It is “never tire.”

FLUTE: Oh (as THISBE) As true as the truest horse that never will tire.

Enter ROBIN and BOTTOM who has a donkey’s head.

BOTTOM: (as PYRAMUS) If I were fair, Thisbe, I would still want only you.

QUINCE: Oh, monstrous! Oh strange! We are haunted. Run everyone, run! Help!


BOTTOM: Why do they run away? I see what they’re up to. They want to make an ass
of me, to scare me if they can. But I will not leave this place, no matter what
they do. I will walk up and down here and I will sing, so that they hear I am
not afraid.

(sings) The ousel cock so black of hue,

With orange-tawny bill,
The throstle with his note so true,
The wren with little quill –

TITANIA: (waking up) What angel wakes me from my flowery bed?

BOTTOM: The finch, the sparrow and the lark,

The plainsong cuckoo gray,
Whose note full many a man doth mark,
And dares not answer nay –

TITANIA: I pray you, gentle mortal, sing again. My ear is in love with your voice, and
my eye is fascinated by your shape. And the force of your fair virtue makes
me say, to swear, that I love you.

BOTTOM: I don’t think you have much reason to love me. But to tell you the truth,
reason and love have little to do with each other these days. It is a shame
someone will not make them friends.

TITANIA: You are as wise as you are beautiful.

BOTTOM: No, that’s not true. But if I were smart enough to get out of this forest, I would
be wise enough indeed.

TITANIA: Out of this wood do not desire to go. You shall stay here whether you want to
or not. I am no ordinary fairy and I love you. So, come with me and I will give
you fairies to be your servants. Peaseblossom, Cobweb and Mustardseed!




ALL: Where shall we go?

TITANIA: Be kind and polite to this gentleman. Feed him apricots and blackberries,
with purple grapes, green figs and mulberries. Bow to him fairies, and curtsy
to him.

PEASEBLOSSOM: Hail mortal!



BOTTOM: I beg your pardon, sirs. – Please tell me your name, sir?

COBWEB: Cobweb.

BOTTOM: I shall like to get to know you better, good Master Cobweb. If I cut my finger,
I shall use you to stop the bleeding. – Your name, honest gentleman?

PEASEBLOSSOM: Peaseblossom.

BOTTOM: Please give my regards to your mother, Mistress Squash and your father,
Master Peascod. – And you, may I ask your name, sir?

MUSTARDSEED: Mustardseed.

BOTTOM: Good Master Mustardseed, I know you very well. I promise you your relatives
have made my eyes water before.

TITANIA: Take good care of him and lead him to my bower.

They all exit.


OBERON: I wonder if Titania is awake yet, and if she is, I wonder what it was she first

Enter ROBIN.

Here comes my messenger. – How now, mad spirit? What havoc have you
caused in this haunted grove?

ROBIN: My mistress is in love with a monster. While she was sleeping, a group of
rough workmen were rehearsing a play for Theseus’ wedding day. The fool
playing Pyramus finished his scene and went to sit in the bush to wait for his
next cue. I took advantage of this and went and fixed a donkeys head on
him. When he returned to continue the scene all his friends ran for their lives
yelling “Monster!” At that exact moment, Titania woke and straight away fell
in love with him, an ass.

OBERON: This is better that I could have planned. But have you put the juice on the
eyes of the Athenian as I asked you to do?

ROBIN: Yes. I found him sleeping and the Athenian woman by his side. When he
woke he must have seen her.


OBERON: Here comes the Athenian now.

ROBIN: This is the woman but he is not the same man.

DEMETRIUS: Why are you so rude to someone who loves you so much? Save that harsh
language for your enemy.

HERMIA: I only scold you now, but I should treat you much worse, for you, I fear, have
given me good reason to. Have you killed Lysander in his sleep? He was
more faithful to me than the sun is to the daytime. Would he have snuck
away from sleeping Hermia? I will believe that as soon as there is a hole
through the centre of the earth so that the moon can pass to the other side.
The only possibility is that you have murdered him.

DEMETRIUS: Be calm, you are misunderstood. I did not kill Lysander, and as far as I know,
he is not even dead.

HERMIA: Then please tell me that he is well.

DEMETRIUS: And if I could, what should I get?

HERMIA: The privilege of never seeing me again.


DEMETRIUS: There is no use in following her when she is in a rage like this. Therefore I
will remain here for a while and rest from the weight of my sorrows.

He falls asleep.

OBERON: What have you done? You have made a mistake and because of this
someone’s true love has turned bad, instead of this man’s false love being
turned true. Go and find Helena of Athens. By some illusion bring her here
and I’ll charm his eyes for when she comes.

ROBIN: I go, I go. Look how I go, faster than an arrow shot from a bow.


OBERON: (putting flower juice onto DEMETRIUS’ eyes) You purple flower, hit by
Cupid’s arrow, sink into the apple of his eye. When he sees the girl he should
love, make her seem as bright to him as the evening star.
Enter ROBIN.

ROBIN: Helena is nearby. The man I mistook for this one is there too, pleading with
her to love him.

OBERON: Step aside. The noise will wake Demetrius.


LYSANDER: Why do you think I mock you when I tell you that I love you?

HELENA: You have made the same promises to me and to Hermia – they can’t both be
true! They must both be false. These vows belong to Hermia. Will you
abandon her?

LYSANDER: I was not thinking clearly when I made those promises to her.

HELENA: Nor are you now as you break them.

LYSANDER: Demetrius loves her, and he does not love you.

DEMETRIUS: (waking) Oh Helena, goddess, perfect, divine! Oh, your lips are as ripe as a
pair of tempting cherries. The pure white snow on a mountain top seems
black as a crow next to your hand. Oh, let me kiss this princess of pure

HELENA: O spite! O hell! I see you are all set against me for your own amusement. If
you had any manners you would not treat me like this. Can you not hate me,
as I know you do? Must you join together in mocking me? You are both rivals
for Hermia’s love and now both rivals to mock Helena. That’s a wonderful
idea, a really manly thing to do – making a poor maid cry!.

LYSANDER: You are unkind, Demetrius, for you love Hermia. This you know I know. And
here, right now, I swear I give up my claim and hand her to you. In exchange,
give up Helena, who I do love and will until I die.

DEMETRIUS: Keep your Hermia. I do not want her. If I ever loved her, all that love is now
gone. My heart is and will remain with Helena.

LYSANDER: It is not so.

DEMETRIUS: Do not insult a deep love that you do not understand, or you shall pay the
price. Look, here comes your love.


HERMIA: It is hard to see clearly in the dark which makes it easier to hear. I could not
see you Lysander, it was my ear that brought me to your sound. Why did you
leave me so unkindly?

LYSANDER: Why should I stay when love tells me to go?

HERMIA: What love could make you leave my side?

LYSANDER: My love for fair Helena, who lights up the night more than all those fiery
stars. Why did you look for me? Did you not understand that I left you
because I hate you?

HERMIA: You cannot mean what you are saying.

HELENA: So, she is part of this too! Now I see that the three of them have joined
together to play this cruel trick on me. Hurtful Hermia! Have you forgotten all
the talks we’ve had, the vows we made to be like sisters, all the hours we
spent together, wishing that we never had to say goodbye – have you
forgotten? Our schooldays friendship, our childhood innocence? And will you
destroy our old friendship by joining with these men to insult your poor
friend? It is not friendly, and it is not maidenly!

HERMIA: I am amazed at your passionate words. I do not insult you. It sounds more
like you are insulting me.

HELENA: Have you not sent Lysander, as an insult, to follow me and praise my eyes
and face? And made your other love, Demetrius – who did kick me with his
foot – call me goddess, divine, rare, precious? Why does he speak like that
to someone he hates? And why does Lysander deny the loves he has for
you, rich within his soul, and show me affection, unless you told him to?

HERMIA: I do not understand what you mean by this.

HELENA: Oh fine. Go ahead, keep up your little game. Pretend to be sympathetic, but
then wink and make faces at me when I turn my back. If you had any sense
of pity or manners, you would not pretend to fight over me like this. But fare
you well. It is partly my own fault which either death or absence shall

LYSANDER: Stay, gentle Helena. Hear my excuse. My love, my life, my soul, fair Helena!

HELENA: Oh, excellent!

HERMIA: Sweet, do not insult her like that.

DEMETRIUS: If her begging fails then I can force you to stop.

LYSANDER: You cannot force me any more than she can beg. Your threats are no
stronger than her weak prayers. Helena, I love you, I swear I do. I will give
my life to prove him wrong that says I do not love you.

DEMETRIUS: I say I love you more than he can do.

LYSANDER: If you say so, withdraw and prove it to.

DEMETRIUS: Quick, come.

HERMIA: Lysander what are you doing?

LYSANDER: Get away! Hang off you cat, you thorn. Let go of me or I will shake you off
me like a snake.

HERMIA: Why are you so rude? What change is this, sweet love?

LYSANDER: Your love? Your love is like poison to me. Get away!

HERMIA: Are you teasing?

HELENA: Of course he is, and so are you!

LYSANDER: Demetrius, I will keep my promise with you.

DEMETRIUS: I have seen the strength of your promises. I do not trust you.

LYSANDER: What, should I hurt her, strike her, kill her dead? Although I hate her, I’ll not
harm her.

HERMIA: Can you do me greater harm than hate? Hate me? Why? What has
happened to you my love? Am I not Hermia? Are you not Lysander? I’m as
fair now as I was before. You loved me when we fell asleep, but when you
woke you left me.

LYSANDER: Yes I did, and I never wanted to see you again. So stop hoping, and
wondering, do not doubt. Be certain that it is true and no jest, that I do hate
you and love Helena.

HERMIA: O me! You trickster! You snake! You thief of love! What have you come in
the night and stolen my love’s heart from him?

HELENA: Oh Hermia! Have you no modesty, no maiden shame. No touch of

bashfulness? Fie, fie! You counterfeit, you puppet, you!

HERMIA: “Puppet”? Oh, I see where this game is going. She is talking about the
difference in our height. Does he have such a high opinion of you because I
am so dwarfish and low? How short am I, you painted maypole? Speak. How
low am I? I am not too short that my fingernails cannot reach into your eyes.

HELENA: I pray you, even though you tease me, gentlemen, do not let her hurt me.
Perhaps you think that because she is smaller than myself that I can match

HERMIA: “Smaller!” See, she is doing it again!

HELENA: Good Hermia, do not be so bitter with me. I always loved you. I never did
anything to hurt you – except – I told Demetrius about your plan to run away.
I only did that because I loved him so much. He followed you and I followed
him. But he told me to leave and threatened to hit me, kick me – even kill me.
Now, just let me go quietly back to Athens. I will follow you no further.

HERMIA: Well, go then! What is stopping you?

HELENA: A foolish heart that I leave here behind.

HERMIA: What, with Lysander?

HELENA: With Demetrius.

LYSANDER: Do not be afraid. She shall not hurt you Helena.

DEMETRIUS: No, sir, she shall not.

HELENA: Oh, when she is angry she is quick and vicious. And even though she is little,
she is fierce.

HERMIA: “Little” again? Nothing but “low” and “little”! Why are you letting her insult me
like this? Let me come to her!

LYSANDER: Get you gone, you dwarf, you tiny little weed! You bead, you acorn!

DEMETRIUS: You do too much to defend a woman who wants nothing to do with you. Do
not speak of Helena. Do not take her part. If you continue to treat Hermia this
way you will pay for it.

LYSANDER: Hermia does not hold me anymore. Follow me, if you dare, to prove who is
most worthy of Helena.

DEMETRIUS: “Follow”? No, I will go with you, side by side.

They exit.

HERMIA: You, mistress, all this trouble is because of you. Stay where you are.

HELENA: I will not trust you or stay in your company. You hands may be quicker for a
fight but my legs are longer to run away.


HERMIA: I am amazed and do not know what to say.


OBERON: This is your fault. You constantly make mistakes, or else you cause this kind
of mischief on purpose.

ROBIN: Believe me, King of Shadows, I made a mistake.

OBERON: These lovers are looking for a place to fight. Hurry, Robin, and make the
night dark and overcast so that these rivals get completely lost in the woods.
Lead them around until they are both exhausted enough to sleep. Then
crush this herb in Lysander’s eyes. This will erase all the damage that has
been done and he will see normally again. When they wake, all their conflict
will seem like a dream and these lovers will return to Athens. While you are
doing this I will go to Titania and ask her once again for the Indian boy. Then
I will undo the spell I cast over her so she that she will no longer be in love
with a monster, and all things shall be at peace.


TITANIA: Come and sit down on this flowery bed while I caress those loveable cheeks.
I will stick musk roses in your sleek, smooth head and kiss your big, beautiful
ears, my gentle joy.

BOTTOM: Where’s Peaseblossom?


BOTTOM: Scratch my head, Peaseblossom. I must go to the barber’s monsieur,

because I am getting extremely hairy around my face. And I am such a
tender ass that if my hair tickles me, I must scratch. Where’s Cobweb?


BOTTOM: Monsieur Cobweb, good monsieur, Get your weapons to hand and kill me a
red-hipped bumble bee on a thistle. And, good monsieur, bring me the honey
bag. Oh, and monsieur, Be careful not to break the honey bag. I would hate
to see you drowned in honey.

TITANIA: Would you like to hear some music, my sweet love?

BOTTOM: I have a pretty good ear for music.

TITANIA: Or tell me, sweet love, what you would like to eat.

BOTTOM: Truly, I’d like a few pounds of grass. I could munch on some good dry oats,
or maybe a bundle of hay. There is nothing like good hay, sweet hay.

TITANIA: I have an adventurous fairy who will seek out the squirrel’s hoard and bring
you fresh nuts.

BOTTOM: I would rather have a handful or two of dried peas. But now, let no one stir
me, for I must sleep.

TITANIA: Then sleep. And I will wrap my arms around you. Oh, how I love you. Oh,
how I adore you.

They both sleep. Enter ROBIN.

OBERON: Welcome, good Robin. Do you see this sweet sight? Now I am starting to pity
Titania for being so lovesick. I teased and argued with her until she begged
me to leave her alone. Then I asked her for the stolen Indian child and she
said yes straight away. Now that I have the boy I will undo the charm.

OBERON: (he squeezes the juice from the second flower into TITANIA’S eyes) Be like
you used to be, and see like you used to see. Now, my Titania, wake up, my
sweet queen,

TITANIA: My Oberon, What visions I have seen! I dreamed I was in love with an ass.

OBERON: There lies your love.

TITANIA: How did this happen!

OBERON: Robin, take off his head so that when he wakes he may return to Athens with
the others.

Robin removes the donkey head from BOTTOM.

ROBIN: When you wake up, see things with your own foolish eyes again.

OBERON: Take my hands, my queen. Now that you and I are friends again, we can
dance for the duke tomorrow and bless his marriage.

ROBIN: Listen, Fairy King. I can hear the lark. Morning is here.

OBERON: Then, my queen, let us travel silently across the globe where it is still night,
and circle the earth faster than the wandering moon.

TITANIA: And while we walk you can tell me what happened this night and why I was
found here sleeping with mortals upon the ground.


THESEUS: Since we are done with the May Day rites, and it is still so early in the
morning, we have a chance to hear the beautiful music of my hunting dogs
as they chase their prey.

EGEUS: I have once heard the Spartan hunting dogs. Never have I heard such
impressive barking. The forests, the skies, the mountains, and everything
around us seemed to echo the bark of the hounds. I have never heard such
a sweet thunder.

THESEUS: My dogs are bred from Spartan hounds. They have the same sandy-coloured
fur and hanging ears that sweep away the morning dew. They are slower in
the chase but their bark sounds like the ringing of bells, each perfectly in
tune with the other. Judge for yourself when you hear them. But wait a
minute! Who are these maidens?

EGEUS: My lord, this is my daughter here asleep on the ground. And this is Lysander,
and here Demetrius. This is Helena, old Nedar’s daughter. But why are they
all here?

THESEUS: No doubt they woke up early to celebrate the rite of May. But tell me, Egeus,
is this not the day that Hermia must give you her decision and make her

EGEUS: It is, my lord.

THESEUS: Wake up! Awake! Good morrow, friends. Saints Valentines is past.

LYSANDER, DEMETRIUS, HERMIA and HELENA all wake and kneel.

LYSANDER: Pardon, my lord.

THESEUS: Please, all of you, stand up. I know you two are rival enemies. Has the world
become so gentle that people who hate one another can sleep peacefully
side by side.

LYSANDER: My lord, what I say may sound confused, since I am half asleep and half
awake. At the moment I swear that I cannot truly say how I came here. But
now I think about it, and I think that this is true, I came here with Hermia. We
were planning to leave Athens and escape the Athenian law –

EGEUS: Enough, enough, my lord. You have heard enough evidence! I insist that the
law punish him – They would have run away, Demetrius, to defeat us,
robbing you of your wife.

DEMETRIUS: My lord, fair Helena told me of their plan to escape. I was furious and
followed them here and fair Helena, for love, followed me. But, my good lord,
I know not by what power but somehow my love for Hermia melted away like
snow. Now the only person I love and believe in is Helena. I love her, I long
for her and I will always be true to her.

THESEUS: Fair lovers, you are lucky to have met here. We shall talk more of this later. –
Egeus, I overrule your wishes, for in the temple, with Hippolyta and I, these

couples shall be wed. Come, we must return to Athens to begin our


DEMETRIUS: Are you sure that we are awake? It seems to me like we are still sleeping,
still dreaming.

HERMIA: It is like my eyes are out of focus, and everything seems double.

HELENA: Do you remember seeing the duke here?

HERMIA: Yes, and my father.

LYSANDER: And he told us to follow him to the temple.

DEMETRIUS: Why then, we are awake. Let’s follow him and along the way we can tell one
another our dreams.

They all exit.

BOTTOM: (waking up) Tell me when my cue comes, and I will say my next line. My next
cue is “Most fair Pyramus.” Hello! Peter Quince? Flute the bellows-mender?
Well I never! They’ve run away and left me here asleep. What a strange
dream I’ve had. You cannot even describe such a strange dream. I thought I
was – there is no man who can even describe what I was. I thought I was,
and I thought I had – but a man would be a fool to try and say what I thought
I had. No eye has ever heard, no ear has ever seen, no hand has ever tasted
or tongue felt, or heart told what my dream was. I will get Peter Quince to
write a ballad of this dream. It shall be called “Bottom’s Dream” Because it
has no bottom. And I will sing it for the duke in the middle of the play. Or
maybe …(he continues with his ideas as he exits.)


QUINCE: Have you sent anyone to Bottom’s house? Has he come home yet?

SNUG: No one has heard from him. I’m sure he’s been kidnapped.

FLUTE: If he does not come, the play is ruined. It won’t go on. Will it?

QUINCE: No, it would be impossible. There is not a man in all of Athens that could play
Pyramus but Bottom.

SNUG: Masters, the duke is coming from the temple. If we had been able to perform
our play we would have all been made men.

FLUTE: O sweet Bottom! He would have gotten six pence a day for the rest of his life.
And he would have deserved it too. Pyramus is worth six pence a day, or


BOTTOM: Where are my good fellows?

QUINCE: Bottom! O, how wonderful to see you!

BOTTOM: Masters, I have some wonders to tell – but do not ask me what, for if I tell
you then I am no true Athenian. I will tell you everything, exactly as it

QUINCE: Tell us, Bottom.

BOTTOM: No, you won’t get a word out of me. All that I will tell you is that the duke has
dined. Get your costumes together, good strings for your beards and new
ribbons for your shoes. Meet me as soon as possible at the palace. Our play
is going to be performed for the duke!

They all exit.


HIPPOLYTA: What these lovers speak of, Theseus, is very strange.

THESEUS: More strange than true. I will never believe any of these old legends or fairy
tales. Lovers and madmen fantasise and hallucinate about things that sane
people just cannot understand. The lunatic, the lover and the poet are all
ruled by their overactive imaginations.

HIPPOLYTA: But the story that these lovers are telling, and that they all saw and heard
exactly the same things, makes me think that there is more going on here
than imaginary fantasies

THESEUS: Here come the players of tonight’s entertainment.


QUINCE: Your grace.

If we offend, it is with our good will.
We hope you think we come not to offend,
But with good will. To show our simple skill,
That is the very thing which we intend.
The actors are at hand and by their show
You shall know all that you are likely to know.

THESEUS: This fellow seems confused.

QUINCE: Gentles, perhaps you wonder at this show;

But wonder on, till truth makes all things plain.
This man is Pyramus, just so you know;
This beauteous lady Thisbe is certain.
And through a wall, poor souls they are both glad
To whisper. For what else could either do.
By moonshine these lovers did not think it bad
To meet at Ninus' tomb, there, there to woo.
This grisly beast, which “Lion” is by name,
The trusty Thisbe, coming here by night,
Did scare away, or rather did affright;
And, as she fled, her cloak she did let fall,
Which Lion vile with bloody mouth did stain.
And then comes Pyramus, sweet youth and tall,
And finds his trusty Thisbe's cloak remains:
At this, with blade, with bloody blameful blade,

He bravely broached his boiling bloody breast;
And Thisbe, hiding in mulberry shade,
His dagger drew, and died. For all the rest,
Let Lion, Moonshine, Wall, and lovers dear
Explain some more, since they are standing here.

THESEUS: I wonder if the lion will speak.

WALL: In this here scene to me it falls

That I, one Quince by name, present a wall;
And such a wall, as I would have you think,
That had in it a little hole or chink,
Through which the lovers, Pyramus and Thisbe,
Did whisper often very secretly.

PYRAMUS: (played by BOTTOM)

O grim-looking night! O night that is so black!
O night, which is there when day is not!
O night, O night! Alack, alack, alack,
I fear my Thisbe’s promise has been forgot! –
And you, O Wall, O sweet, O lovely Wall,
You stand between her father’s ground and mine.
You Wall, O Wall, O sweet and lovely Wall,
Show me your chink to see through with my eyne.

The WALL holds up two fingers as a chink.

Thanks, courteous Wall. God bless you well for this!

But what see I? No Thisbe do I see.
O wicked Wall through whom I see no bliss!
Cursed be your stones for deceiving me!

THESEUS: Since the wall is alive, it should curse back at him.

BOTTOM: (out of character) No, in truth, sir, he should not. “Deceiving me” is Thisbe’s
cue. She is to enter now and I will see her through the wall. Here she comes.


THISBE: O Wall, often have you heard me moan,

For parting my fair Pyramus and me!
My cherry lips have often kissed your stones,
Your stones that I have kissed so tenderly.

PYRAMUS: I hear a voice. Now I will look through the hole to see if I can see my Thisbe’s
face. Thisbe?

THISBE: You are my love, my love, I think.

PYRAMUS: I am your love and faithful am I.

THISBE: And so am I, until the day I die.

PYRAMUS: Oh, kiss me through the hole in this vile wall!

THISBE: I kiss the wall and not your lips at all.

PYRAMUS: Will you meet me at Ninny’s tomb straight away?

THISBE: Neither life or death will stop me, I come without delay.

They exit.

WALL: I, Wall, have done my part so.

And, being done, away Wall must go.

Exit WALL.

THESEUS: Now the wall is down between the two neighbours. They should have waited.

HIPPOLYTA: This is the silliest thing that I ever heard.

THESEUS: If we imagine them to be how they imagine themselves, then they may pass
for excellent actors. Here come two noble beasts, a man and a lion.


LION: You, ladies, whose gentle hearts do fear

The smallest monstrous mouse that creeps on the floor,
May now, perhaps, both quake and tremble here,
When lion in wildest rage does roar.
Then know it’s me, I must confess,
And not a lion, or a lioness.

THESEUS: A very gentle beast, with a good conscience.

HIPPOLYTA: The very best beast that I ever saw.

MOONSHINE: This lantern, the crescent moon, represents.

Myself the man in the moon do seem to be –
THESEUS: Well then, this is the biggest mistake of all. The man should be inside the
lantern. How else is he the “man in the moon”?

HIPPOLYTA: Proceed, Moon.

MOONSHINE: All that I have to say is to tell you that the lantern is the moon; I, the man in
the moon; this thornbush is my thornbush; and this dog, is my dog.


THISBE: This is old Ninny’s tomb. Where is my love?

LION: Roar...

THISBE runs off, dropping her cloak.

THESEUS: Well roared, Lion! And well run, Thisbe!

HIPPOLYTA: Well shone, Moon! Truly, the moon shines well.

The LION shakes THISBE’S cloak and stains it with blood.

THESEUS: That’s good, Lion! Shake it around like a cat with a mouse.


PYRAMUS: Sweet Moon, I thank you for your sunny beams.

I thank you, Moon, for shining now so bright.
For by your gracious, golden, glittering gleams,
I hope my truest Thisbe is in sight. –
But wait, O spite!
But look, poor knight,
What dreadful thing is here!
Eyes, do you see?
How can it be?
O dainty duck! O dear!
Your cloak so good,
What, stained with blood?
Approach, you fires of hell!
O Fates, come, come,
Cut thread and thrum.
Conquer, crush, conclude and quell!

THESEUS: (ironically) Oh, what passion!

PYRAMUS: O why, nature did you lions create?

Since lion vile has here devoured my dear,
Which is – no, no – which was the fairest mate
That lived, that loved, that liked, that looked with cheer.
Come, tears, confound!
Out , sword, and wound!
The breast of Pyramus.
Yes, that left breast
Where heart does hop.
So die I, like this, this, this.
Now am I dead.
Now am I fled.
My soul is in the sky.


PYRAMUS: Now die, die, die, die, die.


HIPPOLYTA: If Moonshine has gone before Thisbe comes back, how will she find her lover
dead in the dark?

THESEUS: Here she comes, and her passion ends the play.


THISBE: Asleep, my love?

What, dead, my dove?
O Pyramus, arise!
Speak, speak. Quite dumb?
Dead, dead? A tomb
Must cover thy sweet eyes.
These lilly lips,
This cherry nose,
These yellow cowslip cheeks,

Are gone, are gone:
Lovers, make moan:
His eyes were green as leeks.
Tongue, not a word:
Come, trusty sword;
Come, blade, my breast cut through:

THISBE stabs herself.

And, farewell, friends;

So Thisbe ends:
Adieu, adieu, adieu.

THISBE dies.

THESEUS: Moonshine and Lion are left to bury the dead.

HIPPOLYTA: Yes, and Wall too.

BOTTOM: (out of character) No, I assure you. The wall that parted their fathers has
been taken down. Will it please you to see the epilogue?

THESEUS: No epilogue, please. Your play does not need to be excused. Never
apologise afterwards, for when the players are all dead, no one can be
blamed. The clock has chimed midnight and so it is time for bed. We shall
continue the celebrations, but for now, sweet friends, to bed.

They all exit. Enter ROBIN.

ROBIN: If we shadows have offended,

Think but this, and all is mended,
That you have but slumber'd here
While these visions did appear.
And this weak and silly theme,
No more real but a dream,
Gentles, we mean not to offend:
If you pardon, we will mend:
Else the Puck a liar call;
So, good night unto you all.
Give me your hands, if we be friends,
And Robin shall restore amends.



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