A MIDSUMMER NIGHT’S RECOLLECTION

An Appalachian adaptation of
Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream

By Becky Mushko
1996

The 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 mushko@embarqmail.com.

The idea for this play was borrowed from William Shakespeare, who also used lots of other people's ideas, so I doubt he’d 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 can’t say for sure.

CHARACTERS:

THESEUS—leader in this valley; something like a king.
HIPPOLYTA—woman Theseus captured in a feud and plans to marry.
PETER QUINCE—the narrator who explains stuff in case the audience ain’t right bright.
EGEUS—a daddy who picked out his girl’s husband.
DEMETRIUS—the feller Egeus picked out.
HERMIA—Egeus’ daughter who don’t want to marry Demetrius.
LYSANDER—the boy Hermia does want to marry.
HELENA—Hermia’s friend who wants to marry Demetrius.
OBERON—a conjur man.
TITANIA—a witchy woman.
PUCK—one of Oberon’s spirit buddies.
NICK BOTTOM, FRANCIS FLUTE, SNUG, SNOUT, and STARVLING— A bunch of good ol’ boys who git to play some music at Theseus’s wedding; friends of Peter Quince.

Any of the multitude of melodies for “Barbara Allen” may be used for the song.

Makeshift musical instruments—or a guitar—are optional.


At rise, the stage is set to indicate a clearing in the woods. PETER QUINCE enters and addresses the audience.

PETER
Howdy. We're right glad you could come set a spell with us. Once upon a time—a right long time ago—deep 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 side—or maybe behind a tree—to watch as THESEUS and HIPPOLYTA enter.

THESEUS
Well now, Hippolyta, I reckon in jist four days when all our kinfolks git here, we’ll git ourselfs married. Time sure does pass slow.

HIPPOLYTA
Four days! Shoot! That ain’t hardly no time at all.

PETER pops out to narrate the following, which THESEUS and HIPPOLYTA pantomime.

PETER
Now Theseus and Hippolyta was jist about to start fussin’—You recollect she warn’t 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 warn’t no fool, y’see, but she did like to git in her two cents ever’ now an’ then. However, ’fore they got into it, along come one o’ Theseus’s buddies—a man name of Egeus—with his daughter and two other fellers.

EGEUS, HERMIA, DEMETRIUS, and LYSANDER enter. HERMIA is not happy; EGEUS is angry. THESEUS motions HIPPOLYTA to exit.

EGEUS
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. She’s got to marry Demetrius or she cain’t be no daughter o’ mine!

HERMIA
But Daddy, I love Lysander! I don't even like Demetrius. I’d rather curl up my toes an’ die than to marry Demetrius!

EGEUS
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 Lysander—if’n not more—He's jist as good-lookin’—if not better—He’s got him a good strong work mule—

LYSANDER interrupts.

LYSANDER
You like him so good, Egeus, then you marry him yourself an’ I’ll marry Hermia.

LYSANDER grabs HERMIA and pulls her toward him. EGEUS pulls her back and pushes LYSANDER to the ground.

EGEUS
You hush yo’ mouth, boy, or I’ll—

EGEUS threatens LYSANDER. THESEUS stops him.

THESEUS
Awwright—now that’s enough. Lysander, you git on down the road. Git!

LYSANDER goes, with a backward look at HERMIA, who blows him a kiss.

Hermia—you got to mind yo’ Daddy. Now, I'll give you two choices. You kin either marry up with Demetrius or you cain’t never marry nobody. I’ll give you a couple o’ days to study over it before you decide.

HERMIA cries.

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.

EGEUS
Hermia, you git on home and git to your chores. I'll be there directly.

EGEUS exits. PETER returns to the stage with HERMIA. HERMIA’S back is to him as she sulks or pouts.

PETER
Hermia was mad as a wet hen, but there weren’t much she could do. Jist then, Lysander—who didn’t go very far off—stepped out from behind some brush.

LYSANDER appears. HERMIA turns and sees him, and flings herself into his arms. PETER continues.

An’ they’uz real glad to see each other. Hey, ya’ll quit that!

HERMIA and LYSANDER break apart.

That's better. I ain’t gonna tell on you, but you got to mind yo’ manners. Now you behave.

They nod agreement. PETER steps aside.

HERMIA
Oh, Lysander, what we gonna do?!

LYSANDER
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’ we’ll run off. Some o’ my Maw’s people live a ways over yonder an’ they’ll take us in. Then we’ll find us a preacher an’ git hitched.

HERMIA
Well, all right. Oh, Lysander—

HERMIA flings herself into LYSANDER’S arms. PETER steps forward, pulls them apart and pushes them in opposite directions. They exit.

PETER
Well, y’all 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. They’d 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 they’uz happy as pigs in mud, but here lately they’d been fussin’ somethin’ awful over who got this here little spirit boy. Hush! Here they come now. You don’t 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.

OBERON
Woman, gimme that boy!

TITANIA
I won’t! He’s mine! I done promised his mama on her death bed I’d look after him. Anyway, what you know about li’l chillun?

OBERON
I know I want that boy to be one o’ my followers!

TITANIA
Ain’t gonna happen! ’Sides, you got enough to foller you. You jist leave this chile alone.

OBERON
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’.

TITANIA
You fix it then! You got the same powers I do!

TITANIA storms out, clutching baby. OBERON calls after her.

OBERON
It ain’t my job—it’s yourn! I'll fix that woman! Puck! Puck! Come here, boy! Where you been?

PUCK runs in, breathing heavily.

PUCK
I’m right cheer!

OBERON
What you been doin’?

PUCK
Havin’ fun! First thing this mornin, I knocked a woman off’n her stool while she’uz milkin’ an’ she fell plumb into the milk. Next, I turned loose a man’s hogs. He's still lookin’ to find ’em all. Then, I spooked the preacher’s mare an’ she flung him smack into the brush. After that—

OBERON
Well, you got to quit. I got a job needs doin’. Up yonder in the church yard there’s 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, I’ll squeeze the juice o’ it in Titania’s eyes while she’s asleepin’. That’ll make her fall in love with the first creature she sees when she wakes up, an’ that'll make her fergit that baby, an’ he’ll be mine. Now git!

PUCK
I'll be back in two shake’s of a sheep’s tail.

PUCK exits. OBERON is proud of himself.

OBERON
Haw! Haw! I’ll fix her wagon! I hope she falls in love with somethin’ uglier’n a mud fence. Haw! Haw!

OBERON sits down to wait. PETER narrates from the side, unseen by OBERON.

PETER
‘Bout this time, Demetrius was aheadin’ home when he run into a old girlfriend of his’n. Y’all 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.

DEMETRIUS
Uh-oh! As if I ain’t got enough trouble already ....

HELENA
Demetrius, honey, I been lookin’ high an’ low fer you!

DEMETRIUS
I done tol’ you to quit pesterin’ me. I ain’t interested in what you got!

HELENA
You shore usta be, Demetrius, honey.

DEMETRIUS
Well, I ain’t no more! One sip o’ you was enough to quench my thirst.

HELENA
You purely break my heart to say that, Demetrius. I’d do jist about anythin’ fer you. I’ll foller you any place you go. I’ll be your hound that always runs true!

DEMETRIUS
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 OBERON.

OBERON
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.

HERMIA
Helena! What’s the matter, chile? Why you cryin’?

HELENA
It’s Demetrius. I jist cain’t git him interested in me.

HERMIA
I wisht he warn’t so interested in me! Oh, Helena, I jist got to tell you somethin’, but you got to cross yo’ heart an’ hope to die iff’n you tell a livin’ soul! I'm fixin’ to run off with Lysander and git hitched!

HELENA
With Lysander! How you gonna git away?

HERMIA
I'm gonna meet him up on the ridge directly. Some o’ his Maw's folks is gonna help us. Well, I’d best be gittin’ up there.

HERMIA exits. HELENA has an idea.

HELENA
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. I’m gonna go find him right now.

HELENA exits. OBERON returns with PUCK. He holds PUCK by the scruff of his neck.

OBERON
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 PUCK’S hand.

and find a nice-lookin’ young feller what’s bein’ chased by a girl who loves him, but he don’t love her. Squeeze this juice in his eyes while he’s asleep an’ he’ll love her back when he wakes up. Jist make sure she’s close by him so he’ll see her first thing. It ain’t gonna hurt you to do somethin’ nice for a change. Now, I’m goin’ to find Titania and fix her good.

OBERON exits, laughing. PETER re-enters and speaks to audience. PUCK doesn’t notice PETER.

PETER
Now, I hope you’re keepin’ track of everybody ’cause we got one more group comin’. They good ol’ boys, but they ain’t real bright. Puck, you better git—I don’t want you makin’ no trouble.

PUCK
Aww, shoot!

PUCK slinks off, but sneaks back when PETER isn’t looking and hides behind a tree to watch. A rowdy group—NICK BOTTOM, FRANCIS FLUTE, SNUG, SNOUT, and  STARVLING—can be heard approaching. They stagger on stage, carrying crude musical instruments—such 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.

PETER
Y’all settle down—an set that jug down, too. We got us a heap o’ work to do. Now Theseus done asked me if’n we could provide a serenade for his weddin’. Since we ain’t 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 Bottom—you git to be Sweet William.

BOTTOM takes a long pull on the jug.

BOTTOM
Who is Sweet William—a lover or a villain?

PETER
A lover—who dies for his own true love.

BOTTOM
Ohhhhh. Well now, I reckon I kin do that.

BOTTOM clutches his heart, staggers, sinks to his knees, and emotes loudly.

Oh! Oh! Oh! I die fer love!

BOTTOM falls forward on his face. PETER yanks him up by his galluses.

PETER
That’ll do, Bottom. Now, Francis Flute. You git to be Barbary Allen.

FLUTE
Hold yer horses, Peter Quince—You jis’ hold ’em right thar! Fix yer eyes on my face. Does my beard look like a woman? Hunnh?

PETER
Ain’t nobody gonna mind your beard. Now, Snug, you be Barbary’s mama, Starvling—you be William’s servant, an’ Snout—you git to be the bell what tolls when William dies. Think y’all can handle that?

THEY each look to the others for approval. Finally, THEY nod, and PETER continues.

Now, Let’s us go through it once so’s we all know what we’s doin’.

BOTTOM
Jis’ a minute, Peter Quince. I need to step behind that bush fer jis’ a minute er two. Y’all 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.

ALL
‘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 mule’s head covering his own head.

ALL
He sent his servant to her door.
To the place where she was dwellin’.
Said, Master’s 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.

BOTTOM
I jis’ plumb hate it when they fun with me. Hey, fellers, y’all wait fer me!

BOTTOM runs off. TITANIA enters, carrying the baby and yawning. OBERON tip-toes behind her.

TITANIA
Lookin’ after this young’un is wearin’ me out. Reckon I’ll 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 doesn’t see TITANIA. His attention is fixed on the jug that he carries.

BOTTOM
Well, shoot! I caint find ’em no place.

BOTTOM takes a swig from the jug then wipes his mouth.

I’ll jist practice by myself if they gonna be that way ....

BOTTOM sings loudly and badly.

BOTTOM (continued)
’Twas in the merry month of Mayayayayaaaaa
When green the bud were swelliiiiiiiiin—

TITANIA wakes up.

TITANIA
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.

LYSANDER
Come on, honey. We got us a fur piece to go yet.

HERMIA
Oh, Lysander, I’m plumb tuckered out. I believe I got to set a spell and catch my breath.

LYSANDER
Well, I reckon we can rest for jist a minute er two. You lay down over yonder and I’ll keep watch here by the path.

HERMIA lies down and naps. LYSANDER sits down, looks up and down the path, yawns, and lies down.

LYSANDER
I reckon it won’t hurt none if I jist grab a few winks.

LYSANDER dozes off and snores. PUCK enters and sees him.

PUCK
Well, well. This must be the feller Oberon tol’ me about. He young, nice-lookin’, and yonder’s the gal. Looks like he won’t let her git close to him. Well, I’ll fix him good.

PUCK squeezes juice in LYSANDER’S eyes and leaves. PUCK doesn’t see HELENA enter from opposite direction.

HELENA
Demetrius! Demetrius! Where are you? Oooohhh! Lysander! You all right? Are you dead, Lysander?

HELENA doesn’t see HERMIA who continues to sleep. HELENA shakes LYSANDER awake. LYSANDER immediately falls in love with HELENA.

LYSANDER
Whuuu—? Land sakes! Helena?

LYSANDER clutches his heart.

Oh, Helena! Honeypot! Why, you’re purtier ’n a speckled pup! I b’lieve I wanna marry up with you, Helena!

HELENA
Lysander, are you plumb out’n your head? What about Hermia?

LYSANDER
Who? Aw, her! She ain’t nothin’! You the one I love, Helena!

HELENA
You makin’ fun o’ me, Lysander?

LYSANDER
No, I ain’t! 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.

HERMIA
Lysander! Lysander! Where are you at? I jist had a real bad dream. Lysander?

DEMETRIUS enters and sees HELENA.

DEMETRIUS
Hermia? Are you all right?

HERMIA
Where’s Lysander? What have you done to him, Demetrius?! Lysander!!! Ohhh, you done killed him, ain’t you, Demetrius? Lysander!

HERMIA runs off, calling LYSANDER’S name as she goes.

DEMETRIUS
Hermia—wait jist a minute, honey!

DEMETRIUS runs after her. OBERON and PUCK enter. OBERON has the baby.

OBERON
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?

PUCK
Yep, it’s all done jist like you wanted. Hey, yonder comes somebody. Le’s us hide an’ see what’s goin’ on.

OBERON and PUCK “hide” upstage. HERMIA enters, crosses stage, and exits as she calls—

HERMIA
Lysander! Lysander!

DEMETRIUS enters, following HERMIA. They cross stage and exit.

DEMETRIUS
Hermia! Hermia! Honey, wait fer me!

PUCK
That’s the gal, but that sure ain’t the right feller.

OBERON
No, that’s the feller I meant, but that sure ain’t the right gal.

HELENA enters, runs off in same direction as HERMIA and DEMETRIUS.

HELENA
Demetrius! Demetrius! Wait fer me, Demetrius!

OBERON
Now that’n’s the gal I meant!

LYSANDER enters, following Helena.

LYSANDER
Helena! Helena! Don’t run so fast, honey!

LYSANDER runs off after HELENA.

PUCK
But that’n’s the feller I thought you meant!

OBERON
Puck, you in a heap o’ trouble, boy! Le’s us go try’n 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.

PETER
Well, now we could have all them tell you jist what happened to ever’body theirselfs, but it’d take way too long an’ some o’ you got to git on home to your chores. Sooo—I’ll jist go right ahead and tell what happened as best I can so you won’t 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 eyes—makin’ extry careful he had the right ones lined up next to one another. Jist a’fore 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.

PETER (continues)
Them young folks thought they wuz dreamin’. ’Bout that time, along come Theseus an’ Hippolyta an’ Egeus who’d been out all night coon-huntin’.

THESEUS, HIPPOLYTA, and EGEUS enter and join the pantomime.

PETER (continues)
When Demetrius allowed as how he won’t 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 that’uz a real good idea.

The four LOVERS, THESEUS, HIPPOLYTA, and EGEUS exit, happily.

PETER (continues)
Oh, yeah, I reckon you’re 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 he’uz drunk an’ had a bad dream about bein’ a mule that was done rode hard an’ put away wet.  

Well, I reckon it’s bout time fer them three couples to be sayin’ the last o’ their “I do’s” and come on in here for their serenade. I b’lieve 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.

PETER
We’re jist right proud to be here! Well, boys le’s 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 doesn’t understand, so BOTTOM has to get up and push him. STARVLING pretends to ride a horse all around the stage—and maybe into the LOVERS before he gets to Barbary’s house.

He sent his servant to her door—
To the place where she was dwellin’.
Said Master’s sick and he calls for ye
If ye be Barbary Allen.

STARVLING
Master’s sick .... He’s powerful sick....

STARVLING points to a writhing, retching BOTTOM.

... and he calls for you ...

FLUTE, busy singing, misses his cue. PETER pushes him.

PETER
Flute! Git over there! You done missed your entrance!

FLUTE hurries over, sashays around. A confused STARVLING starts over.

STARVLING
Uh—master’s sick and he calls for you ....

BOTTOM
Barbary! BARBARY!!! I’m dying fer love o’ ye!

BOTTOM writhes even harder as PETER goes to him to subdue him.

STARVLING
... 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 ye’re dyin’.
FLUTE leaves the group and flounces across the stage, pretends to knock on a door, and peers into BOTTOM’S contorted face.

FLUTE
My lord! Uh...uh...uh, I fear ye’re...uh.. cryin’.

BOTTOM
Dyin’! Dyin’!

FLUTE
Oh, yeah. My lord! I fear ye’re dyin’. You ain’t 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—
I’m 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.

FLUTE
Do you ... uh, do you recollect ... uh .... Well, you know whut you done!

BOTTOM answers, singing operatically and badly.

BOTTOM
Oh, I remember the other night,
When the glasses were a’fillin’!
I gave a toast to the ladies all,
But my love to Barbary Allen!

BOTTOM flings himself at FLUTE’S feet and clutches him about the ankles.

I gotta have ye, Barbary! I jist gotta!

BOTTOM clutches harder—and maybe higher. FLUTE fights him off, then runs away. BOTTOM writhes on the ground and cries.

FLUTE
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.

PETER
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.

SNOUT
Woe! Woe! Woe! I don’t rightly understan’ this part, Peter. Why would the bell say “Whoa”? They ain’t no horse to stop.

PETER
Jist hush!

SNOUT rejoins the group, though he occasionally rings the bell. SNUG steps out to play the mother while the remainder of the GOOD OL’ BOYS sing.

GOOD OL’ BOYS
Oh Mother, Mother, make my bed.
Make it straight and narrow.
My true love died for me today.
I’ll die for him tomorrow.

FLUTE isn’t sure which way to go. PETER pushes him toward SNUG, who motions to him to come.

FLUTE
Mama? Mama, make my ... my bed. I’m a’gonna sleep. No, that ain’t it ....

PETER
Die! Die!

FLUTE
Oh, yeah. I’m a’gonna die! So you make up my bed—an’...whatever it wuz they said.

SNUG
Oh, honey, you probly jist got the pip. You gonna feel better directly.

FLUTE
Naw, I’m a’gonna die fer love.

SNUG
Now, that’s ’bout the silliest thing I ever heared tell of.

FLUTE
Naw, it’s true. Looka here.

FLUTE, really getting into his part, dies dramatically. SNUG looks down at his prone body.

SNUG
Well, don’t 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 exit—except for PETER. The LOVERS applaud. THESEUS rises.

THESEUS
Well, I reckon we best be goin’ too. Come on, Hippolyta. Good night, ever’body.

Each COUPLE bids the others “Good night” as they exit. PETER waves to each couple as they go. Then PETER addresses the audience.

PETER
Now wadn’t that somethin’? It’s gittin’ late. I reckon I better head on down the road, too. Y’all better come go with us.

Waving farewell, PETER exits as the lights dim.

--END--

Becky Mushko's Homepage


AppLit Fiction and Poetry Index
Complete List of AppLit Pages on Folklore

Links to Other Online Texts


Home


Contact Tina L. Hanlon with questions or comments on this page.