MIDSUMMER NIGHTS RECOLLECTION
An Appalachian adaptation of
Shakespeares A Midsummer Nights Dream
author reserves all rights. However, permission is granted to those
AppLit readers who wish to make copies of this play for classroom
use or for non-profit performances provided you e-mail the author
in advance of use at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The idea for this play was borrowed from William Shakespeare, who
also used lots of other people's ideas, so I doubt hed mind
SETTING: Somewhere in a high valley, surrounded by even higher
mountains. (Can be staged with minimal scenery or on a bare stage.)
TIME: A while back. Just how far, I cant say for sure.
THESEUSleader in this valley; something like a king.
HIPPOLYTAwoman Theseus captured in a feud and plans to marry.
PETER QUINCEthe narrator who explains stuff in case the audience
aint right bright.
EGEUSa daddy who picked out his girls husband.
DEMETRIUSthe feller Egeus picked out.
HERMIAEgeus daughter who dont want to marry Demetrius.
LYSANDERthe boy Hermia does want to marry.
HELENAHermias friend who wants to marry Demetrius.
OBERONa conjur man.
TITANIAa witchy woman.
PUCKone of Oberons spirit buddies.
NICK BOTTOM, FRANCIS FLUTE, SNUG, SNOUT, and STARVLING A bunch
of good ol boys who git to play some music at Theseuss
wedding; friends of Peter Quince.
Any of the multitude of melodies for Barbara Allen may
be used for the song.
Makeshift musical instrumentsor a guitarare optional.
At rise, the stage is set to indicate a clearing in the woods. PETER
QUINCE enters and addresses the audience.
Howdy. We're right glad you could come set a spell with us. Once upon
a timea right long time agodeep in a valley surrounded
by high mountains was this king named Theseus whose people had been
feuding with another bunch o people in the next valley. Well,
Theseus ended the feud when he captured one o their women and
vowed to make her his wife. Here they come now.
PETER moves to the sideor maybe behind a treeto watch
as THESEUS and HIPPOLYTA enter.
Well now, Hippolyta, I reckon in jist four days when all our kinfolks
git here, well git ourselfs married. Time sure does pass slow.
Four days! Shoot! That aint hardly no time at all.
PETER pops out to narrate the following, which THESEUS and HIPPOLYTA
Now Theseus and Hippolyta was jist about to start fussinYou
recollect she warnt none too happy about this, but she was a
good-hearted woman, and she figgered as to how this marriage could
bring the feud to a close, plus Theseus had a lot of good farmland
and was right well-off. She warnt no fool, ysee, but she
did like to git in her two cents ever now an then. However,
fore they got into it, along come one o Theseuss
buddiesa man name of Egeuswith his daughter and two other
EGEUS, HERMIA, DEMETRIUS, and LYSANDER enter. HERMIA is not happy;
EGEUS is angry. THESEUS motions HIPPOLYTA to exit.
Hey, Theseus! I got me a problem here. My girl Hermia here wants to
marry Lysander, but I done made a deal with Demetrius here. Shes
got to marry Demetrius or she caint be no daughter o mine!
But Daddy, I love Lysander! I don't even like Demetrius. Id
rather curl up my toes an die than to marry Demetrius!
It don't make no never mind what you want. I done give my word! Sides,
Demetrius got jist as many cows an pigs as Lysanderifn
not moreHe's jist as good-lookinif not betterHes
got him a good strong work mule
You like him so good, Egeus, then you marry him yourself an
Ill marry Hermia.
LYSANDER grabs HERMIA and pulls her toward him. EGEUS pulls her back
and pushes LYSANDER to the ground.
You hush yo mouth, boy, or Ill
EGEUS threatens LYSANDER. THESEUS stops him.
Awwrightnow thats enough. Lysander, you git on down the
LYSANDER goes, with a backward look at HERMIA, who blows him a kiss.
Hermiayou got to mind yo Daddy. Now, I'll give you two
choices. You kin either marry up with Demetrius or you caint
never marry nobody. Ill give you a couple o days to study
over it before you decide.
Egeus, you and Demetrius come on in an set a spell.
THESEUS and DEMETRIUS go off. EGEUS gives final instructions to HERMIA
before following Theseus.
Hermia, you git on home and git to your chores. I'll be there directly.
EGEUS exits. PETER returns to the stage with HERMIA. HERMIAS
back is to him as she sulks or pouts.
Hermia was mad as a wet hen, but there werent much she could
do. Jist then, Lysanderwho didnt go very far offstepped
out from behind some brush.
LYSANDER appears. HERMIA turns and sees him, and flings herself into
his arms. PETER continues.
An theyuz real glad to see each other. Hey, yall
HERMIA and LYSANDER break apart.
That's better. I aint gonna tell on you, but you got to mind
yo manners. Now you behave.
They nod agreement. PETER steps aside.
Oh, Lysander, what we gonna do?!
Well, I got us a plan. After you finish up your chores, you gather
up your things an meet me up on the ridge an well
run off. Some o my Maws people live a ways over yonder
an theyll take us in. Then well find us a preacher
an git hitched.
Well, all right. Oh, Lysander
HERMIA flings herself into LYSANDERS arms. PETER steps forward,
pulls them apart and pushes them in opposite directions. They exit.
Well, yall done met some o these folks, but we still got
a heap more. Now, these woods all over these mountains jist full o
witches n spirits n such. Theyd heared
how Theseus was fixin to have a big weddin, so natcherly
they wanted to come, too. The king o these spirits was a conjur
man name o Oberon, and his queen was a witchy woman name o
Titania. Usually theyuz happy as pigs in mud, but here lately
theyd been fussin somethin awful over who got this
here little spirit boy. Hush! Here they come now. You dont want
to mess with folks what got magic powers.
PETER hides behind tree or moves out of sight. TITANIA enters, clutching
a baby. OBERON follows, angrily.
Woman, gimme that boy!
I wont! Hes mine! I done promised his mama on her death
bed Id look after him. Anyway, what you know about lil
I know I want that boy to be one o my followers!
Aint gonna happen! Sides, you got enough to foller you.
You jist leave this chile alone.
You been studyin on that chile too much and neglectin
yo duty. While you been makin over that boy, the land
dryin up. You done forgot it your job to make it rain. Crops
not growin right. People complainin.
You fix it then! You got the same powers I do!
TITANIA storms out, clutching baby. OBERON calls after her.
It aint my jobits yourn! I'll fix that woman! Puck!
Puck! Come here, boy! Where you been?
PUCK runs in, breathing heavily.
Im right cheer!
What you been doin?
Havin fun! First thing this mornin, I knocked a woman offn
her stool while sheuz milkin an she fell plumb into
the milk. Next, I turned loose a mans hogs. He's still lookin
to find em all. Then, I spooked the preachers mare an
she flung him smack into the brush. After that
Well, you got to quit. I got a job needs doin. Up yonder in
the church yard theres a rose bush agrowin on the grave
of a girl who died mournin her lost love. You pick one o
them roses, fetch it back here, Ill squeeze the juice o
it in Titanias eyes while shes asleepin. Thatll
make her fall in love with the first creature she sees when she wakes
up, an that'll make her fergit that baby, an hell
be mine. Now git!
I'll be back in two shakes of a sheeps tail.
PUCK exits. OBERON is proud of himself.
Haw! Haw! Ill fix her wagon! I hope she falls in love with somethin
ugliern a mud fence. Haw! Haw!
OBERON sits down to wait. PETER narrates from the side, unseen by
Bout this time, Demetrius was aheadin home when he run
into a old girlfriend of hisn. Yall pay attention. This
is where things git complicated.
DEMETRIUS enters from one direction as HELENA enters from the other.
OBERON watches them intently. They do not see OBERON.
Uh-oh! As if I aint got enough trouble already ....
Demetrius, honey, I been lookin high an low fer you!
I done tol you to quit pesterin me. I aint interested
in what you got!
You shore usta be, Demetrius, honey.
Well, I aint no more! One sip o you was enough to quench
You purely break my heart to say that, Demetrius. Id do jist
about anythin fer you. Ill foller you any place you go.
Ill be your hound that always runs true!
Quit houndin me! Now git home, Helena, and jist leave me be.
DEMETRIUS pushes HELENA away and stalks off. SHE sinks to the ground,
crying. OBERON sees her and feels sorry for her. SHE does not see
I think I can help this poor girl. First thing, I got to find Puck.
OBERON exits. HERMIA enters, carrying a sack and sees HELENA crying.
Helena! Whats the matter, chile? Why you cryin?
Its Demetrius. I jist caint git him interested in me.
I wisht he warnt so interested in me! Oh, Helena, I jist got
to tell you somethin, but you got to cross yo heart an
hope to die iffn you tell a livin soul! I'm fixin
to run off with Lysander and git hitched!
With Lysander! How you gonna git away?
I'm gonna meet him up on the ridge directly. Some o his Maw's
folks is gonna help us. Well, Id best be gittin up there.
HERMIA exits. HELENA has an idea.
Well, if that don't beat all! With Hermia outta the way, I jist might
stand a chance with Demetrius. If I run tell him how Hermia is doin
him, he jist might fall smack in love with me agin. Im gonna
go find him right now.
HELENA exits. OBERON returns with PUCK. He holds PUCK by the scruff
of his neck.
Awwright, boy! You got that rose?
PUCK searches his pockets and finally finds it. OBERON grabs it.
Now what I want you to do is take some of this rose juice...
OBERON squeezes juice into PUCKS hand.
and find a nice-lookin young feller whats bein chased
by a girl who loves him, but he dont love her. Squeeze this
juice in his eyes while hes asleep an hell love
her back when he wakes up. Jist make sure shes close by him
so hell see her first thing. It aint gonna hurt you to
do somethin nice for a change. Now, Im goin to find
Titania and fix her good.
OBERON exits, laughing. PETER re-enters and speaks to audience. PUCK
doesnt notice PETER.
Now, I hope youre keepin track of everybody cause
we got one more group comin. They good ol boys, but they
aint real bright. Puck, you better gitI dont want
you makin no trouble.
PUCK slinks off, but sneaks back when PETER isnt looking and
hides behind a tree to watch. A rowdy groupNICK BOTTOM, FRANCIS
FLUTE, SNUG, SNOUT, and STARVLINGcan be heard approaching.
They stagger on stage, carrying crude musical instrumentssuch
as a washboard, a washtub bass, etc.and a jug, which
they pass back and forth among them. PETER tries, at first unsuccessfully,
to get them organized. Finally, he more or less succeeds.
Yall settle downan set that jug down, too. We got us a
heap o work to do. Now Theseus done asked me ifn we could
provide a serenade for his weddin. Since we aint got much
time, we got to do somethin we all know, so I reckon the story
o Barbary Allen is somethin we can do. Now to stretch
it out some, we both gonna sing it an act it out. Now lessee,
Nick Bottomyou git to be Sweet William.
BOTTOM takes a long pull on the jug.
Who is Sweet Williama lover or a villain?
A loverwho dies for his own true love.
Ohhhhh. Well now, I reckon I kin do that.
BOTTOM clutches his heart, staggers, sinks to his knees, and emotes
Oh! Oh! Oh! I die fer love!
BOTTOM falls forward on his face. PETER yanks him up by his galluses.
Thatll do, Bottom. Now, Francis Flute. You git to be Barbary
Hold yer horses, Peter QuinceYou jis hold em right
thar! Fix yer eyes on my face. Does my beard look like a woman? Hunnh?
Aint nobody gonna mind your beard. Now, Snug, you be Barbarys
mama, Starvlingyou be Williams servant, an Snoutyou
git to be the bell what tolls when William dies. Think yall
can handle that?
THEY each look to the others for approval. Finally, THEY nod, and
Now, Lets us go through it once sos we all know what wes
Jis a minute, Peter Quince. I need to step behind that bush
fer jis a minute er two. Yall jis go on without
me an I'll ketch up.
BOTTOM goes upstage, into the bushes, and turns his back to audience.
OTHERS begin to sing.
Twas in the merry month of May
When green the buds were swellin
Sweet William on his deathbed lay
For the love of Barbary Allen.
During the song, PUCK sneaks up behind BOTTOM, grabs him, yanks him
offstage, and pushes BOTTOM back with a mules head covering
his own head.
He sent his servant to her door.
To the place where she was dwellin.
Said, Masters sick and he calls for ye
If ye be
THEY freeze in mid-note when they see BOTTOM. Then THEY scream and
run offstage in various direction. BOTTOM stands perplexed, scratching
his long ears for a moment while he ponders their behavior.
I jis plumb hate it when they fun with me. Hey, fellers, yall
wait fer me!
BOTTOM runs off. TITANIA enters, carrying the baby and yawning. OBERON
tip-toes behind her.
Lookin after this youngun is wearin me out. Reckon
Ill jist rest a spell.
TITANIA yawns again, lies down, and sleeps. OBERON sneaks closer,
squeezes juice into her eyes, laughs, motions to audience to keep
quiet, carefully picks up the baby, and sneaks out. BOTTOM re-enters,
but he doesnt see TITANIA. His attention is fixed on the jug
that he carries.
Well, shoot! I caint find em no place.
BOTTOM takes a swig from the jug then wipes his mouth.
Ill jist practice by myself if they gonna be that way ....
BOTTOM sings loudly and badly.
Twas in the merry month of Mayayayayaaaaa
When green the bud were swelliiiiiiiiin
TITANIA wakes up.
I jist heared somethin real purty! Wonder whut it wuz?
TITANIA sees BOTTOM, clutches her heart, goes to him, grabs him, and
drags him offstage, kissing him as they go. BOTTOM keeps hold of the
jug. Meanwhile HERMIA and LYSANDER enter.
Come on, honey. We got us a fur piece to go yet.
Oh, Lysander, Im plumb tuckered out. I believe I got to set
a spell and catch my breath.
Well, I reckon we can rest for jist a minute er two. You lay down
over yonder and Ill keep watch here by the path.
HERMIA lies down and naps. LYSANDER sits down, looks up and down the
path, yawns, and lies down.
I reckon it wont hurt none if I jist grab a few winks.
LYSANDER dozes off and snores. PUCK enters and sees him.
Well, well. This must be the feller Oberon tol me about. He
young, nice-lookin, and yonders the gal. Looks like he
wont let her git close to him. Well, Ill fix him good.
PUCK squeezes juice in LYSANDERS eyes and leaves. PUCK doesnt
see HELENA enter from opposite direction.
Demetrius! Demetrius! Where are you? Oooohhh! Lysander! You all right?
Are you dead, Lysander?
HELENA doesnt see HERMIA who continues to sleep. HELENA shakes
LYSANDER awake. LYSANDER immediately falls in love with HELENA.
Whuuu? Land sakes! Helena?
LYSANDER clutches his heart.
Oh, Helena! Honeypot! Why, youre purtier n a speckled
pup! I blieve I wanna marry up with you, Helena!
Lysander, are you plumb outn your head? What about Hermia?
Who? Aw, her! She aint nothin! You the one I love, Helena!
You makin fun o me, Lysander?
No, I aint! I swear! I love you, Helena!
LYSANDER advances on HELENA with out-stretched arms.
How about a little smooch?
HELENA shakes her head and runs off stage. LYSANDER follows her. HERMIA
tosses, turns, and wakes up.
Lysander! Lysander! Where are you at? I jist had a real bad dream.
DEMETRIUS enters and sees HELENA.
Hermia? Are you all right?
Wheres Lysander? What have you done to him, Demetrius?! Lysander!!!
Ohhh, you done killed him, aint you, Demetrius? Lysander!
HERMIA runs off, calling LYSANDERS name as she goes.
Hermiawait jist a minute, honey!
DEMETRIUS runs after her. OBERON and PUCK enter. OBERON has the baby.
Well, I done fixed Titania. Haw, haw! Soon as she seen that mule,
she forgot all about this chile. Did you fix the young feller?
Yep, its all done jist like you wanted. Hey, yonder comes somebody.
Les us hide an see whats goin on.
OBERON and PUCK hide upstage. HERMIA enters, crosses stage,
and exits as she calls
DEMETRIUS enters, following HERMIA. They cross stage and exit.
Hermia! Hermia! Honey, wait fer me!
Thats the gal, but that sure aint the right feller.
No, thats the feller I meant, but that sure aint the right
HELENA enters, runs off in same direction as HERMIA and DEMETRIUS.
Demetrius! Demetrius! Wait fer me, Demetrius!
Now thatns the gal I meant!
LYSANDER enters, following Helena.
Helena! Helena! Dont run so fast, honey!
LYSANDER runs off after HELENA.
But thatns the feller I thought you meant!
Puck, you in a heap o trouble, boy! Les us go tryn
catch em an fix what you done.
OBERON drags PUCK off by scruff of his neck. They exit in direction
of the four lovers. PETER enters and addresses the audience.
Well, now we could have all them tell you jist what happened to everbody
theirselfs, but itd take way too long an some o
you got to git on home to your chores. SoooIll jist go
right ahead and tell what happened as best I can so you wont
have to study on it too hard.
As PETER narrates, PUCK, OBERON, LYSANDER, DEMETRIUS, HELENA, and
HERMIA pantomime in fast motion what PETER describes.
Now, as best as I can recollect, them four lovers and Puck and Oberon
chased all around in the brush up on the mountain fer nigh on to three
days an nights. Finally, Puck jist knocked em all in the
head with a piece o stovewood and Oberon put the juice in their
eyesmakin extry careful he had the right ones lined up
next to one another. Jist afore Oberon an Puck slipped
off, Puck commenced to hollerin like a painter an woke
em all up.
PUCK hollers as he and OBERON exit. The lovers awake.
Them young folks thought they wuz dreamin. Bout that time,
along come Theseus an Hippolyta an Egeus whod been
out all night coon-huntin.
THESEUS, HIPPOLYTA, and EGEUS enter and join the pantomime.
When Demetrius allowed as how he wont interested in Hermia no
more, Egeus agreed to let Lysander have her. Theseus allowed as how
the preacher wuz comin anyway, why not everybody git hitched
at the same time an save a mite o money. Egeus, bein
a man who was close with his money, reckoned thatuz a real good
The four LOVERS, THESEUS, HIPPOLYTA, and EGEUS exit, happily.
Oh, yeah, I reckon youre interested in what happened to Titania
an Nick Bottom. Well, Oberon got to feelin real sorry
fer Titania an put another spell on her that made her think
she done dreamed up the whole thing and give him that baby of her
own free will. Now, as fer Nick Bottom, Puck drug him off an
pushed him into a ditch an Bottom woke up thinkin he done
fell in while heuz drunk an had a bad dream about bein
a mule that was done rode hard an put away wet.
Well, I reckon its bout time fer them three couples to be sayin
the last o their I dos and come on in here
for their serenade. I blieve they comin right now. You
might want to set a spell longer and watch.
THESEUS, HIPPOLYTA, LYSANDER, HERMIA, DEMETRIUS, and HELENA enter
and sit to the side of the stage. Each couple sits close together
and exchanges loving glances. Then BOTTOM, FLUTE, SNUG, SNOUT, and
STARVLING drag in their instruments and a make-shift curtain, which
they assemble in center stage. PETER steps in to help. The good ol
boys arrange themselves while PETER acts as their spokesman. They
nod agreement as he speaks.
Were jist right proud to be here! Well, boys les us start.
The GOOD OL BOYS all sing except where noted. The LOVERS watch
and react. The boys pantomime the action as they sing.
GOOD OL BOYS
Twas in the merry month of May
When green the buds were swellin,
Sweet William on his deathbed lay
For the love of Barbary Allen.
BOTTOM lies down on a pallet, rolls in agony and summons STARVLING
to go to Barbary. STARVLING doesnt understand, so BOTTOM has
to get up and push him. STARVLING pretends to ride a horse all around
the stageand maybe into the LOVERS before he gets to Barbarys
He sent his servant to her door
To the place where she was dwellin.
Said Masters sick and he calls for ye
If ye be Barbary Allen.
Masters sick .... Hes powerful sick....
STARVLING points to a writhing, retching BOTTOM.
... and he calls for you ...
FLUTE, busy singing, misses his cue. PETER pushes him.
Flute! Git over there! You done missed your entrance!
FLUTE hurries over, sashays around. A confused STARVLING starts over.
Uhmasters sick and he calls for you ....
Barbary! BARBARY!!! Im dying fer love o ye!
BOTTOM writhes even harder as PETER goes to him to subdue him.
... if ye be Barbary Allen.
STARVLING breathes a huge sigh of relief and rejoins the group.
GOOD OL BOYS
So slowly, slowly got she up
And slowly she came nigh him.
The only words that ere she spake
My lord, I fear yere dyin.
FLUTE leaves the group and flounces across the stage, pretends to
knock on a door, and peers into BOTTOMS contorted face.
My lord! Uh...uh...uh, I fear yere...uh.. cryin.
Oh, yeah. My lord! I fear yere dyin. You aint really
dyin are you, Bottom? You do look a mite puney.
BOTTOM shakes his head and fist at FLUTE.
GOOD OL BOYS
Oh yes, tis true, tis very true
Im sick and like to dyin,
And better never will I be,
Til I have Barbary Allen.
FLUTE desperately tries to remember his lines as he hovers over BOTTOM.
Do you ... uh, do you recollect ... uh .... Well, you know whut you
BOTTOM answers, singing operatically and badly.
Oh, I remember the other night,
When the glasses were afillin!
I gave a toast to the ladies all,
But my love to Barbary Allen!
BOTTOM flings himself at FLUTES feet and clutches him about
I gotta have ye, Barbary! I jist gotta!
BOTTOM clutches harderand maybe higher. FLUTE fights him off,
then runs away. BOTTOM writhes on the ground and cries.
Jist leave me be!
GOOD OL BOYS
She had not gone very far from him,
When she heard the death-bell knellin.
THEY pause and look at SNOUT; he is busy watching BOTTOM.
Snout! The bell! Ring it!
SNOUT rings the bell, a little too frantically and loudly.
GOOD OL BOYS
And every toll that ere it struck
Said, Woe to Barbary Allen.
SNOUT rings furiously.
Woe! Woe! Woe! I dont rightly understan this part, Peter.
Why would the bell say Whoa? They aint no horse
SNOUT rejoins the group, though he occasionally rings the bell. SNUG
steps out to play the mother while the remainder of the GOOD OL
GOOD OL BOYS
Oh Mother, Mother, make my bed.
Make it straight and narrow.
My true love died for me today.
Ill die for him tomorrow.
FLUTE isnt sure which way to go. PETER pushes him toward SNUG,
who motions to him to come.
Mama? Mama, make my ... my bed. Im agonna sleep. No, that
aint it ....
Oh, yeah. Im agonna die! So you make up my bedan...whatever
it wuz they said.
Oh, honey, you probly jist got the pip. You gonna feel better directly.
Naw, Im agonna die fer love.
Now, thats bout the silliest thing I ever heared tell
Naw, its true. Looka here.
FLUTE, really getting into his part, dies dramatically. SNUG looks
down at his prone body.
Well, dont that beat all!
SNUG shrugs and rejoins the group. BOTTOM and FLUTE lie dead
on opposite sides of the stage.
THE GOOD OL BOYS
They buried her in the old churchyard.
They buried William nigh her,
An from his grave grew a red, red rose,
And from her grave a brier.
BOTTOM and FLUTE hop up and join the group in singing the final verse.
They climbed, they climbed the old church wall
Til they could climb no higher.
They tied into a true lover's knot
Red rose lapped round the brier.
The GOOD OL BOYS bow extravagantly and congratulate themselves.
Passing the jug among themselves, they exitexcept for PETER.
The LOVERS applaud. THESEUS rises.
Well, I reckon we best be goin too. Come on, Hippolyta. Good
Each COUPLE bids the others Good night as they exit. PETER
waves to each couple as they go. Then PETER addresses the audience.
Now wadnt that somethin? Its gittin late.
I reckon I better head on down the road, too. Yall better come
go with us.
Waving farewell, PETER exits as the lights dim.
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