Bottom is one of the group called the mechanics and he is an important comic character and is the only mortal to enter the world of fairies. In this scene we are introduced to him for the first time and he is one of a band of workmen who offer a complete contrast to the world of fairies that we saw previously. In the scene a group of artisans discuss the play they are going to perform as part of Theseus’s wedding celebration. The play is entitled, “The most lamentable comedy, and most cruel death of Pyramus and Thisbe. Peter Quince takes a roll call of the actors and hands out their parts. Bottom the weaver gets the leading role of Pyramus, which pleases him because he is super-confident of his acting abilities. Bottom’s costume will reflect his status as a weaver, so therefore his costume might be torn or dusty. His dramatic status is important because he is a dominant, full of self-importance and eager to dominate the meeting of this band of amateur actors.
I would also make his costume quite colourful, to reflect his happy, enthusiastic and quite over bearing character. My performance would be influenced by my physical appearance and vocal characteristics. I see Bottom as a tradesman in his forties, taller than the others and of portly build, in fact I would want him to be physically larger than life and his accent Devonshire in cadence and with a raucous singing voice.
In this scene, my performance would have to reflect the rivalry between Bottom and Quince. In the beginning of the scene, Quince who is in charge, would walk in rather proud, with an upright posture, and with head held high, maybe greeting the workmen by shaking their hands and smiling, as he doesn’t want to make enemies and wants them to do what he requires and to ignore Bottom. He would probably forget to acknowledge Bottom and walk straight past him to put him in his place. Bottom’s first line… You were best to call them generally, man by man according to the scrip,’ shows that despite Quinces dislike for him, and the attempt to lower his confidence, he is still extrovert and larger than life. It was directed to Quince and in playing this part I would make my voice domineering loud and move in close to Quince trying to intimidate him, as he is smaller than me. Quince would also be centre stage, as he is almost the focal point and is meant to be in charge of the other actors, who would be sitting down, looking up to him.
Bottom would stand up in order to compete with Quince and try to push him out of the way or maybe stand in front of him to block him completely. My intention would also to get people to like me and to establish a friendship with them by shaking their hands. I would then break off from doing this to say ‘First good Peter Quince, say what the play treats on.. ‘ in a forceful manner and then get closer to Quince, snatching the scroll out of his hand, as if to take over the rehearsal myself.
There would be complete scuffle between them as they fight for passion of the script, and this could be created very comically using large exaggerated gestures and their voice could turn into a crescendo, getting louder to get their point across without the other interfering. As bottom I would sound very confident and sometimes almost quite patronising, as if I am talking to people far more inferior to me for example when I say ‘A very good piece of work I assure you, and a merry’ almost as if my opinion is important and worth hearing. Also when I say ‘Now good Peter Quince, call forth your actors.. it would be in a very instructive but condescending tone, emphasising the word ‘good’ as it would provoke an annoyed reaction from Quince. Even when Quince calls out my name, emphasising that I am just a weaver, I would respond enthusiastically, instructing him to tell me my part and to carry on with authority. Quince appears very powerful and ignores Bottom, so Bottom has to re-establish his importance by ordering “masters spread yourselves’ at this point I would reveal some dissatisfaction and pull up a chair and reluctantly sit down.
At this stage I would want my audience to respond, by thinking Bottom a rather loud mouthed bossy individual and have them feel sorry for Quince having to put up with such a disruptive member of the group. When finding out that I am ‘a lover that kills myself most gallant for love’ I will respond very dramatically, telling the actors how the audience will cry, as my acting will be so natural and emotional. I would hold my hands up to my heart to portray this and maybe pretend to hold out a sword to show how brave I am, even though I am just a lover and not a tyrant.
I would also suggest other parts such as Ercles or a part to tear a cat in, to show my capabilities, and in doing this I would screw my face up to make me look vicious and claw my hands, frantically moving my arms back and forth as if I am attacking a cat. I can see myself in every role and when I recite my poem I walk around the whole stage, emphasising the words ‘raging’ almost spitting the words out to show my fury, and ‘shivering’ by holding my arms and trembling, with my teeth chattering.
I would also push my hands out forcefully, thrusting my body forward, almost as if I was ‘breaking’ the locks of the prison gates. ‘ Quince just ignores him and continues to issue parts to the other actors. I watch when Quince assigns the part of Thisby to the flute, the bellows-mender, which is the other leading role, and when Flute refuses the part as he has a beard coming, my faces becomes animated and delighted as I would love to play that part too, this would be shown by my raised bright eyes and my open mouth.
I face Quince, even though he faces away and tell him how I could wear a mask, and speak in a monstrous little voice, where I would raise the pitch of my voice till it Is almost squeaky, and maybe use a feminine characteristic such as playing with my hair or holding out my hand as if I was carrying a basket. When Quince refuses to give Bottom both parts, Bottom doesn’t show any disappointment and tells him to just ‘proceed. ‘ I continue to dominate the discussion and when Quince gives the lion part to Snug, I almost pounce like a lion and curl my fingers up like claws and raw in a deep husky tone.
I go towards Quince and aggravate my voice and shout ‘I will roar, that I will do anyman’s heart good to hear me.. ‘ and when I quote what the duke will say, I put on an articulate, upper class English accent when I say’ Let him roar again, let him roar again. ‘ When Quince and the rest of the actors claim that I would scare the duchess and the ladies and they would end up hanging them all, I am not offended at all, and continue to suggest other ways of roaring such as ‘gently as any sucking dove’ and whilst saying this I would say it in a feminine voice with a sweet and innocent expression on my face.
When Quince responds, his voice becomes much more stern, and agitated when he says ‘you can play no part but Pyramus’ I will the sulk and sit down on a chair, with my head down and my bottom lip drooping, like a child would do If they were upset. This may make the audience feel a bit sorry for Bottom or they might feel relieved that Quince has finally gained more courage and has power over him. When Quince sees this, he puts on a sympathetic tone and says ‘Pyramus is a sweet-faced man’ lifting my chin up and gently stroking my face.
I quickly recover myself by running energetically towards the wooden box filled with wigs and beards and open it rummaging through all the varieties of beards holding up the ones that might suit his character and throwing the ones that were not good behind him. I think Bottom quite likes the fact that Quince is almost pleading to him and saying how much he needs him to play the part and when Bottom says ‘Well, I will undertake it’ he will say it proudly, expecting all the other actors to be relieved.
In the end of the scene, when Quince suggests learning their lines the following night and rehearsing in the woods, he emphasises to the actors that they should not fail him. I as Bottom, will stand next to Quince, nodding my head up and down, and looking down at the other actors as I am in charge too and I will announce ‘ we may rehearse most obscenely and courageously’ throwing my fist in the air with excitement and I will also make sure I have the last word when I say ‘hold or cut bow-strings,’ which I will say firmly and sharply with authority.
Overall I will try to irritate the actors and the audience, and make them feel sympathetic towards Quince. I also want the audience to realise that although I am very confident and make out that I’m very talented, I am not very good and don’t really have the ability to act other parts, this makes it comical.
I will intimidate the other actors on stage to emphasise my authority and I will make sure that I have Quince’s attention throughout the whole scene, so if Quince turns his back on me or pushes me out of the way, I will get in front of his view and I will push him out of the way too. This way the audience can see our relationship clearer. There are lots of different levels of emotion when Bottom is acting and there is a lot of competition between Quince and him. Bottom is a very comical and melodramatic character to play.