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فصل 07

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PART SEVEN

Pyramus and Thisbe

The whole of Athens came to see the wedding of Theseus and Hippolyta. Everybody was surprised that there was not just one wedding, hut three. There was great happiness when people heard the lovers’ stories. The triple wedding was a great success, and afterwards there was a great feast.

‘Now, Philostrate,’ said Theseus to his master of revels, ‘what entertainment have you organised for us this evening? I hope it’s something special.’

‘Lots of people have made suggestions, sir,’ Philostrate replied, ‘and the choice is yours. There is a play called Pyramus and Thisbe, for example. To tell the truth, it’s not a good play, and the performers are not really actors at all. But you may want to see it.’

‘The performers are not real actors? Who are they, then?’ asked Theseus.

‘Bottom and his friends are simple men, sir,” Philostrate explained. ‘They wanted to do something to celebrate your wedding, and they have chosen this play. But I don’t advise you to see it, sir - their play is terrible.’

‘I want to see it,’ Theseus decided. ‘I don’t care if they aren’t real actors. It’s enough for me that they are simple men who wanted to honour me and Hippolyta. They should he treated with respect. That’s the entertainment we’ll have, Philostrate.’

Phi lost rate went off to tell Bottom and his friends to prepare their performance.

Soon Theseus and Hippolyta led their guests into the hall where the play was to be performed. His special guests were Lysander and Hermia and Demetrius and Helena. Everybody sat down and waited for the performance to begin. There was silence for some minutes, and then Bottom and his friends appeared on stage.

Bottom was dressed as Pyramus, Flute as Thisbe, Snout as Wall. Starveling as Moonshine, and Snug as Lion.

They all bowed politely to the audience, and then Bottom began to speak the prologue that he and his friends had rehearsed in the wood. He faced the audience solemnly, and said: ‘This is our play. I am Pyramus. I am the hero of the play.’ He paused, and then pointed at Flute. ‘This beautiful girl is Thisbe’

Some people in the audience began to laugh at this, because they could clearly see Flute’s beard through the mask he was wearing. Theseus looked sternly at the people who were laughing, however, and the audience was quiet once more.

‘This man is the wall.’ Bottom went on, pointing at Snout.

‘I am.’ said Snout proudly. ‘You can see I’m the wall, because of this brick I’m carrying.’ He held a large brick in one hand, and showed it to the audience.

‘A talking wall!’ Theseus commented to Demetrius. ‘What next, I wonder?

Bottom continued his introduction of the performers.

‘This man represents Moonshine. Pyramus and Thisbe used to meet on opposite sides of the wall,’ Bottom explained. ‘They would talk through a small hole in the wall,’ he explained. ‘One night Thisbe arrived before Pyramus, and she saw a dreadful lion.’

Here Bottom paused to point significantly at Snug. Snug was dressed as a lion, but his face was showing through the lion’s costume. He waved cheerfully at the audience. Again, some of the audience began to laugh. This time even Theseus joined in the laughter.

‘This is the silliest play I’ve ever seen,’ Hippolyta said to Theseus.

Bottom now went back to the other actors, and they began acting the play. Their acting was terrible.

Thisbe came onto the stage, and was horrified to see a lion. The lion roared. Thisbe screamed and ran away, but as she ran she dropped her cloak, and the lion tore it to pieces. When Pyramus arrived, he saw the cloak on the ground and the lion standing next to it. Pyramus imagined that the lion had eaten his lover. He drew his sword, and killed himself in despair. Then Thisbe returned, and when she saw the body of Pyramus on the ground, she took out a knife and killed herself.

‘They’re terrible,’ Hippolyta said again to Theseus. ‘They don’t know anything about acting or the theatre.’

Some of the audience were angry with Bottom and his friends, and others thought the play was the funniest performance they had ever seen. Theseus was amused, however, and applauded the performance with enthusiasm.

When their play was finished. Bottom and his friends left the stage. They were happy that they had honoured Theseus and his wife with their performance, and they were sure that the play had been a great success.

Soon the great hall where Theseus had entertained his guests was silent and dark. Everyone had gone to bed. A small figure emerged from the darkness and began to speak. It was Puck. He was singing quietly: ‘Now it is the time of night

When fairies come to bring sweet joys

To married girls and married boys.’

As Puck sang his song, other figures emerged from the darkness. Oberon and Titania appeared, with all their servants. The King and Queen began to sing.

‘We wish the couples married here

Happiness for many a year.

Fairies, make a magic sign.

So all their children will be fine.’

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