A Midsummer Night’s Dream - Sample Essay
From Act One, Scene Two of ‘A Midsummer Night’s Dream’, choose a character who you would like to have performed. Say in detail how this character should be played, taking into consideration such things as voice, movement, gesture, position and facial expressions … Midsummer Night’s Dream has a complicated story with several sub-plots. One of the sub-plots, a play inside the play, is written by the carpenter Peter Quince to be performed on the wedding day of Theseus Duke of Athens and his new wife Hippolyta.
The other actors in Quince’s play are to be from his group of friends who are all working men like him. In Shakespeare’s day, skilled workers such as carpenters and weavers were called ‘mechanicals’. None of the group had any experience of acting or any skill either. The part that I would choose to play is that of Bottom. We learn more about him than most of the other characters as he has a lot to say and most of it is funny although he does not know he is being funny.
The title of the play they are going to act ‘The most lamentable comedy and the most cruel death of Pyramus and Thisby’ gives an idea of how funny their acting is meant to be to have exaggerated comedy described as ‘lamentable’ and exaggerated tragedy described as ‘cruel’ all in the one play. From the text of the play, we can see that although Peter Quince is the director and is trying patiently to give his entire group their parts Nick Bottom keeps interfering.
He pushes himself forward and although an amateur actor thinks, he can play every part, even the female parts such as Thisby. If Bottom was a good actor, he could play a female part because in Shakespeare’s time, only men acted on the stage and they played all the parts, male and female. Bottom has to be bossy in his playing of the part and has to interrupt Quince in everything he says making comments all the time that waste everyone’s time. I think Bottom should be played by a big person, tall, maybe fat, because he is a big character in the play.
In this scene Bottom has to play on his own, a solo part to the audience, the only actor the audience will remember. He has to over act all the time, not listen to Quince’s advice and be over confident thinking he can do everything and better than anyone else. Although the play is supposed to be a sad play with Pyramus and Thisby killing themselves for love, Bottom’s acting turns it into a comedy. Bottom thinks he is in charge, not Quince. Because he is such a main character he should keep standing in front of Quince and the mechanical who is being given the part.
Even when Quince is trying to please Bottom calling everyone by name to make him keep quiet, he is still interrupting and holding up the play rehearsal. This is funny for the audience who probably know people like that. Bottom has to be played as a person with bad manners not thinking about other people or caring what they think of him. Quince keeps trying to give everyone their parts without any details of what the character is like but after he is told he is Pyramus, Bottom is very dramatic and wants to know if he is a lover or a tyrant, complete opposites.
He doesn’t give Quince the chance to tell all the others what part they are playing. When Quince tells him Pyramus is a lover who dies he immediately starts being all romantic like a lover then pretends to cry using his hands on his face to point out the tears running down his cheeks. He should go down on his knees slowly falling to the floor as he plays dead. When he starts acting the part of a tyrant who is meant to be tough and aggressive he must have a sword in his hand and run about pretending to kill the others on the stage.
This is also funny because as he is being fierce he is also saying a poem full of alliteration to the audience and as well as swinging the sword for the tyrant keeps opening both his arms wide to quote the poetry like a lover. Quince just wants to carry on giving all the parts out. Quince gives the next part to Francis Flute. When Bottom hears it is the part of a lady he wants to play that part too. He immediately starts acting in a funny high-pitched voice that he thinks sounds like a woman just to show he is good at acting women as well as everything else.
Bottom is told by Quince that he can only be Pyramus, but he still won’t keep quiet. He tells Quince to hurry up although he is the fault of the hold-up. Next he wants to play the lion and boasts that the Duke would like his roaring so much he would ask him to carry on roaring. When he is told he’d frighten the ladies he immediately says he could roar like a dove or a nightingale, birds that sing softly! He doesn’t know how funny this is , only the audience understand the joke.
In this part he should get down on the floor on all fours then stand up on two legs using his arms as paws to attack someone. As he is doing this a loud noise should come out of his mouth that sounds more like an angry cow mooing than a lion. Everyone is getting annoyed with him now and try to shut him up but he goes on not understanding how annoyed they are or even knowing he is being annoying. To make him keep quiet and stop him trying to steal all the parts Quince tells Bottom that he can only play Pyramus because Pyramus is very handsome.
He is very happy to be called handsome and starts posing for the audience in a romantic way. He must stand up to his full height bow to the other actors and then throw kisses to the audience. Instead of letting Quince carry on in his job as director Bottom starts making a fuss about whether he should have a beard and what colour it should be. As he is discussing what colour beard he should have he keeps touching him chin and pulling his hands down to a point to show the shape of a beard.
At the end of the scene when Quince gives everyone their lines and tells them when to meet again Bottom is still trying to control the scene by having the last word. He gives everyone a much tougher message than Quince and tries to look a bit threatening and tells everyone to come to the rehearsal or never be seen again. He should be the last one to leave the stage. He believes he is the best actor so he gives a look of annoyance at the other actors and as he leaves the stage he should smile at the audience to show they know he is the best.