The Mechanicals play Essay
The Mechanicals play
The Mechanicals play is full of devices which show how incompetent they are as actors. How would you direct the play of ‘Pyramus and Thisbe’ to bring out the comedy? The Pyramus and Thisbe play is classed as a tragedy but despite this the Mechanicals make it a comedy through their incompetence as actors. As a director I would bring out the comedy by exploring: casting, voices, body, costume, props, movement and blocking. I would choose to put the play on at the Globe theatre because that way the audience could appreciate the words and acting of the play rather than be dazzled by fancy lighting and sound.
I would have the people of the court lying down at the edges of the stage so that they are still there but not detracting attention away from the Mechanicals. Quince starts the play with the prologue, lines 108 – 152. I would cast Quince as a tall, slender man with posh English accent so that he can project his voice out over the court. He would be tall because the play is like his baby, he wrote it and directed it and by being taller than the other Mechanicals he is almost like a father, as fathers are taller than their children when they are young.
As Quince speaks I would have him with a fairly neutral expression on his face so that he can introduce each actor in the same way. I would have him in a dark suit with a white shirt and black bow – tie almost as though he is a master of ceremonies. As he introduces each actor they should stand forward and bow in an exaggerated manner, Thisbe should curtsey, this is to set the over the top acting style for the rest of the play. Pyramus, who is supposed to be a tall, handsome, hero, would be funny played by a short, balding, fat man with a very camp voice.
I would have him in clothes of the period and place, i. e. Athens, similar to those of a king or prince. Thisbe, who is supposed to be a ‘beauteous lady’ would be funny played by a man in drag, wearing a long flowing dress of the period and place with wig to go with and a scarf and ‘she’ would have a cockney accent. The wall should wear a sheet with a wall painted on, with a white shirt and trousers underneath, he should have one arm stretched out with the sheet attached and the other bent round with his hand on his hip and a brick in the hole that his arm makes with his body.
He should have a Liverpudlian accent so that he seems gossipy, meaning that ‘walls have ears’ and so hear a lot of gossip and want to spread it around. Moonshine should have a London accent and should wear a white shirt and white trousers to give the impression of shining. He should seem thoroughly bored with the whole production because he doesn’t have a very large part. He should have a light bulb to hold to represent the moon, a cuddly toy dog on a lead for the dog and a small bonsai tree to represent the bush.
The lion should be very timid to be funny because lions are stereotypically ferocious beasts. He should wear an orangey – brown furry all in one with a tail and hairy – fur around the head. All the actors should be barefoot to add to their incompetence and show that they are the working classes, i. e. too poor to afford good shoes. At this point in the play, because the people of the court are talking amongst themselves rather than to the actors, the actors would ignore their comments.
The wall starts to speak and he should stand across the stage, not facing the front but just turning his head, with his arms in place as before and when he says ‘that had a crannied hole or chink’ he should remove the brick and slowly wave it above his head so that the whole audience can see it before placing it on the floor, this should be done in a very exaggerated manner. When Pyramus speaks he should do very exaggerated, over the top, arm movements as though he was reaching for something. When Pyramus says ‘ show me thy chink, to blink through with mine eyes’ the wall should point furiously to the hole made by his arm bent round.
Then when Theseus interrupts, Bottom should talk to Theseus in a conspiratorial manner when he explains that ‘deceiving me’ is Thisbe’s cue to enter. Thisbe enters form the right, seemingly quite bored because he has to play the part of a woman, stands the other side of the wall to Pyramus, puts her hands on her hips and speaks her lines. Then Thisbe exits on the right and Pyramus on he left. The wall then speaks again but this time in a conspiratorial manner to Theseus. The wall then picks up the brick and exits on the left.
The people of the court talk together about the play so far, they should be laughing and joking. The lion enters from the right and timidly speaks his lines with his hands up by his face like paws. He then goes to the back of the stage and squats down and stays there. Moonshine, having entered from the left at the same time as the lion and stood at the back of the stage, comes forward and starts to speak, holding up the light bulb as he does so. Theseus interrupts and so moonshine should look upon him with disbelief, annoyance and that they could have the audacity to interrupt him, this happens again.
The third time moonshine says his lines angrily and holds up each prop as he speaks about it, he points at himself for ‘the man in the moon’. Thisbe enters form the right and looks around, she says her line with no real feeling; the lion roars very quietly and the people of the court joke about his timid roar as he chases Thisbe off stage left, she drops her scarf when she’s chased away. Bottom then comes on stage from the right and speaks his lines whilst doing extremely exaggerated arm movements up towards the moon, he should also exaggerate the irony of the words he speaks on line 256 ‘sweet moon, I thank thee for thy sunny beams’.
He should then catch sight of her scarf, rush over and fall on his knees by it. He then picks it up and says his lines (265 – 270), he should be very upset and somewhat angry when speaking these lines, made comical by the camp tone in his voice. He then takes out his wooden sword, when he says ‘out sword, and wound’ on line 280 and stabs himself with it because he is so overcome with grief at the thought that he’s lost Thisbe. He then gets up on to his feet and walks about the stage from side to side, swaying as though he was drunk; moonshine leaves the stage form the left when Pyramus says ‘moon, take thy flight’ on line 289.
Then on line 290, Pyramus falls to his knees and keels over, facing the audience at the front, whilst saying his last line. The play is nearly finished at this point and the people of the court talk amongst themselves and say how they are beginning to get bored of the play. Then Thisbe enters from the right and looks around, she sees Pyramus and goes to kneel behind him; she peers over him to look at his face, seemingly upset, she speaks her lines with her face pointing upwards with one hand on Pyramus’ side.
As she speaks she should shuffle around Pyramus, on her knees, until she is by his knees, then at line 325 ‘come, trusty sword’ she should reach over for the sword and stab herself. She should then keel over in the opposite direction so that they are top-to-tail, both facing the audience. After Demetrius says hi line, the actors playing Pyramus and Thisbe, i. e. Bottom and Flute, get up and ask the people of the court if they would like to hear the epilogue. Theseus is very quick to say no as all the people have had enough of the play and are bored with it.
At this point all the Mechanicals enter, half from the left, half from the right, and they bow, Thisbe should curtsey. Throughout reading this it is vital to remember that the characters accents will play a very big part in bringing out the comedy of the play. In conclusion, despite the fact that the play of ‘Pyramus and Thisbe’ is a tragedy it is appropriate to put it on as a comedy so that it ties in with the rest of ‘A Midsummer Night’s Dream’, which is also a comedy.
The Mechanicals incompetent acting makes the play of ‘Pyramus and Thisbe’ comical and as director I would have brought out the comedy by considering: casting, voice, body, costume, props, movement and blocking; movement and voice in particular because by exaggerating all the movements the Mechanicals as actors would seem incompetent, thus bringing out the comedy in the play, and by giving all the Mechanicals a different accent or tone of voice that was very inappropriate for that character, for example, Pyramus with his camp voice, would also bring out the comedy in the play of ‘Pyramus and Thisbe’.