The scene in particular was one taken from Act V of William Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream. The scene, often referred to as the story of “Pyramus and Thisbe” is considered a play within a play. While the story of Pyramus and Thisbe is likely taken from an even older Latin poem—Ovid’s Metamorphosis—it’s relationship to A Midsummer Night’s Dream is one lovers of literature most often allude to.
The story is a comedy, resembling the relationship dynamics of Romeo and Juliet and revealing thematic elements of “forbidden love.” However, in Pyramus and Thisbe, there is a twist. For this play within a play is performed not by professional actors, but by the “mechanicals,” a group of amateurs looking for their big break: laborers and stage hands collected near Athens. As this slapstick crew of ragtag actors puts on their performance, they turn serious themes into comedic ones; much less tragic than the greater play suggests.
Some of the notable characters in the play are Pyramus, who is young and in love, and Thisbe, who is also young and in love. There is a wall through which Pyramus and Thisbe profess and express their love for one another, a lion throwing chaos into the mix, and a poetic Moon shining light.
Staying strong to Shakespearean roots, all the major roles were played by male actors. Yes, even Thisbe was played by a male who is actually the reluctant bellows mender from A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Francis Flute. As you are surely beginning to realize, before students could even begin practicing their lines for the play, they had to have an understanding of the intricacies present in Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream. Without understanding the historical context of the play and its actors, the allusions to recurring motifs, and the intricacies of a “play within a play,” the actors would have likely failed in their performance. Fortunately, the opposite was true.
The play was a smashing success! Over the past few months, Mr. Hirst and a group of student-actors worked hard to prepare for CCA’s first play. Students were given the task of memorizing lines, learning stage cues, creating costumes and props, and decorating the stage. Working under the keen guidance of ELA teacher, Mr. Hirst, students gathered multiple times a week, after school, to practice their dialogue and stage movements with the rest of the drama crew.
As always, it’s important to recognize that the actors on stage were just the tip of the iceberg. Hours of careful planning and cooperative design begot beautiful stage scenery, fun costumes, and well-managed curtain calls, lighting, and sound. The actors were not the only stars of the show. Everyone involved is to be praised for the riveting performance and comedic reliving of “Pyramus and Thisbe,” a play within William Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream.
Will CCA continue to host a drama club? It’s too early to tell what might unfold in the upcoming years. However, I will say this: if CCA drama is led by Mr. Hirst again, you can count on the next play being just as fun, engaging, and education as the last.
Thank you CCA students, actors, stagehands, and Mr. Hirst for all your hard work and dedication to entertainment, education, and live theatre!