Midsummer Night’s Dream
by Gillette Elvgren
RT 45 minutes
About the Play
In this adaptation of Midsummer’s Night Dream, four "players" in a traveling clown troupe wake up one morning to discover that they have been abandoned by the other members of the company. That evening they are required to perform A MIDSUMMER NIGHT’S DREAM before the local Squire and they have to madly re-invent the play so that it can be done with four clowns. The rehearsal which follows reveals not only the heart of Shakespeare's play, but the machinations of play-making itself. This version has audience participation, and was first produced by the Young Company of the Three River's Shakespeare Festival
From the Play:
BUFFOA large, rather offish clown. ARLEA female Arlechino LEANDROThe lover clown, full of himself. CELESTINAThe spoiled young leading lady
(At opening BUFFO is sleeping, standing behind one of the sheets on a clothes line, in the throws of a nightmare. Mendelson’s music is playing, cock crows. As dream gets worse a collage of lines from the play can be heard building and crescendoing.)
VOICES: “The Raging Rocks”; “Well roared, Lion”; “Let him roar again”; “O monstrous, O strange!” “We are haunted!” “Pray masters, fly, masters, HELP!”; “Bless thee Bottom, thou are translated!”; “HELP.”
(BUFFO tears down sheets and runs madly about.)
BUFFO: Help! O help! Monstrous!
(The other clowns awakened, pursue him.)
LEANDRO: Grab him!
CELESTINA: He’s wrinkling my dress. Get him off me.
LEANDRO: Wake him up!
CELESTINA: He’s mussing my hair!
(ARLE throws a small bucket of confetti on BUFFO as if it were water. CELESTINA breaks from BUFFO’S frantic grasp.)
CELESTINA: Now look what you’ve done!
ARLE / LEANDRO: Wake up, Buffo!
BUFFO: (coming to) Oh. Ah. Eee! I have had a dream.
LEANDRO: (sarcastic) Tell us about it.
BUFFO: Well, it had lions that roar, and claws that tore …
ARLE: Here we go.
BUFFO: And lovers galore. And kings and things …
LEANDRO: What’s for breakfast?
BUFFO: And fairies and bees.
ARLE: The wash is dry.
BUFFO: A sprite in the night.
LEANDRO: Hey, where are the others?
BUFFO: And the moon shining bright.
ARLE: (calling) Beatrice!
BUFFO: And creepies and crawlies,
Hobgoblines were there,
With chants and spells,
There was fog in the air,
There were …
(CELESTINA grabs a note from tree.)
CELESTINA: Look at this!
(The others, except BUFFO gather about to read note.)
BUFFO: … Eerie sounds,
Ohhh, ahh, and eeee,
Behind bush, behind tree.
OTHERS: Oh no!
CELESTINA: It can’t be!
BUFFO: But it was. I saw it up here in my head, clear as night – a dream the likes of which …
LEANDRO: Would you stop blathering …
CELESTINA: They’ve gone.
ARLE: (cackling like a hen) Flew the coup.
LEANDRO: The other players. Listen! (He reads.)
“Dear Friends, we’ve heard they’re
Having tryouts not far from here.
Tryouts for a tragedy, a play called KING LEAR.
We’re tired of laughs, we’d rather have tears.
So, break a leg and all that,
In all probability we won’t be back.”
BUFFO: Tragedy? Oh no.
CELESTINA: But I like happy endings.
ARLE: And pratfalls like this.
(ARLE falls comically.)
LEANDRO: And slapstick.
(Hits BUFFO who does a comic dive.)
BUFFO: It never really hurts. And you bounce back – once more.
CELESTINA: Tragedy’s so slow.
ARLE: And sad.
LEANDRO: And everyone cries in the end.
ALL: Like this!
(They do agonizing deaths and collapse in a pile in the middle.)
LEANDRO: I just had a thought. Tonight, in Shropshire, precisely at 8 p.m. our Company is entertaining the Duke and Duchess of something or other with William Shakespeare’s rollicking comedy and most famous fantasy – A MIDSUMMER NIGHT’S DREAM.
BUFFO: (applauding) I want to go, I do! I do!
CELESTINA: That’s us you ninny. What are we going to do?
BUFFO: We’ll do the play, just like we have for the last three months.
ARLE: But most of the players – they left in the night.
LEANDRO: There are only us four. When the Duke finds out it’ll be: “That young actor there, off with his head!”
CELESTINA: We’ll all be dead, dead, dead.
BUFFO: This is beginning to sound like a tragedy. Come on, we can do it. We’ll double up. Triple up. We’ll play more parts than one. One role’s alright, but five would be fun!
LEANDRO: I’ll play the Duke.