From the Play
BUFFO A large, rather offish clown.
ARLE A female Arlechino
LEANDRO The lover clown, full of himself.
CELESTINA The spoiled young leading lady
(At opening BUFFO is sleeping, standing behind one of the sheets on a clothes line, in the throws of a nightmare. Mendelson’s music is playing, cock crows. As dream gets worse a collage of lines from the play can be heard building and crescendoing.)
VOICES: “The Raging Rocks”; “Well roared, Lion”; “Let him roar again”; “O monstrous, O strange!” “We are haunted!” “Pray masters, fly, masters, HELP!”; “Bless thee Bottom, thou are translated!”; “HELP.”
(BUFFO tears down sheets and runs madly about.)
BUFFO: Help! O help! Monstrous!
(The other clowns awakened, pursue him.)
LEANDRO: Grab him!
CELESTINA: He’s wrinkling my dress. Get him off me.
LEANDRO: Wake him up!
CELESTINA: He’s mussing my hair!
(ARLE throws a small bucket of confetti on BUFFO as if it were water. CELESTINA breaks from BUFFO’S frantic grasp.)
CELESTINA: Now look what you’ve done!
ARLE / LEANDRO: Wake up, Buffo!
BUFFO: (coming to) Oh. Ah. Eee! I have had a dream.
LEANDRO: (sarcastic) Tell us about it.
BUFFO: Well, it had lions that roar, and claws that tore …
ARLE: Here we go.
BUFFO: And lovers galore. And kings and things …
LEANDRO: What’s for breakfast?
BUFFO: And fairies and bees.
ARLE: The wash is dry.
BUFFO: A sprite in the night.
LEANDRO: Hey, where are the others?
BUFFO: And the moon shining bright.
ARLE: (calling) Beatrice!
BUFFO: And creepies and crawlies,
Hobgoblines were there,
With chants and spells,
There was fog in the air,
There were …
(CELESTINA grabs a note from tree.)
CELESTINA: Look at this!
(The others, except BUFFO gather about to read note.)
BUFFO: … Eerie sounds,
Ohhh, ahh, and eeee,
Behind bush, behind tree.
OTHERS: Oh no!
CELESTINA: It can’t be!
BUFFO: But it was. I saw it up here in my head, clear as night – a dream the likes of which …
LEANDRO: Would you stop blathering …
CELESTINA: They’ve gone.
ARLE: (cackling like a hen) Flew the coup.
LEANDRO: The other players. Listen! (He reads.)
“Dear Friends, we’ve heard they’re
Having tryouts not far from here.
Tryouts for a tragedy, a play called KING LEAR.
We’re tired of laughs, we’d rather have tears.
So, break a leg and all that,
In all probability we won’t be back.”
BUFFO: Tragedy? Oh no.
CELESTINA: But I like happy endings.
ARLE: And pratfalls like this.
(ARLE falls comically.)
LEANDRO: And slapstick.
(Hits BUFFO who does a comic dive.)
BUFFO: It never really hurts. And you bounce back – once more.
CELESTINA: Tragedy’s so slow.
ARLE: And sad.
LEANDRO: And everyone cries in the end.
ALL: Like this!
(They do agonizing deaths and collapse in a pile in the middle.)
LEANDRO: I just had a thought. Tonight, in Shropshire, precisely at 8 p.m. our Company is entertaining the Duke and Duchess of something or other with William Shakespeare’s rollicking comedy and most famous fantasy – A MIDSUMMER NIGHT’S DREAM.
BUFFO: (applauding) I want to go, I do! I do!
CELESTINA: That’s us you ninny. What are we going to do?
BUFFO: We’ll do the play, just like we have for the last three months.
ARLE: But most of the players – they left in the night.
LEANDRO: There are only us four. When the Duke finds out it’ll be: “That young actor there, off with his head!”
CELESTINA: We’ll all be dead, dead, dead.
BUFFO: This is beginning to sound like a tragedy. Come on, we can do it. We’ll double up. Triple up. We’ll play more parts than one. One role’s alright, but five would be fun!
LEANDRO: I’ll play the Duke.