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Let’s Explore: Bottom’s Dream, and Juliet drinks a potion

One of the things we hope you’ll do is read some Shakespeare speeches out loud. We’ve asked you often to do this, but we’ve never ever done it ourselves to show you how it can work.

Today, we change that, by publishing two videos you’ll find below (though they’re really screenshots + audio) of  Bottom’s Dream (part of A4S1 of A Midsummer Night’s Dream)  and a soliloquy that Juliet says, just before drinking the potion given to  her by Friar Laurence (part of A4S3 of Romeo and Juliet).

We’re publishing these videos to show you how reading out loud can allow the emotions in the speeches can be explored. We hope you’ll be encouraged to try reading scenes like these out loud yourselves, and that you’ll use Players-Shakespeare.com’s scripts to help you do that.

Because we read our plays gender-blind, Bottom is played by a woman, and Juliet by an (aging) man.

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Bottom’s Dream:

Let’s start with Bottom’s Dream. It comes in A4S1 of A Midsummer Night’s Dream. Titania, the Queen of the Fairies, has been in love with Bottom, a ‘rude mechanical’ with an Ass’s head. In A4S1, Oberon wakes Titania from her dream of being in love with Bottom; Puck removes Bottom’s ass’s head; and then Bottom wakes up. The scene is read by Eliza Langland, a member of the Edinburgh Shakespeare playreading group.

So here’s the extract:

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Juliet drinks Friar Laurence’s potion:

In A4S3 of Romeo and Juliet, Juliet is in quite a bad way. She has secretly married Romeo, who has been banished for killing Tybalt in a duel. Her mother and father want to marry her to Paris, and she would rather die than do that. Friar Laurence has given her a potion to drink, which will make her look as if dead for 42 hours, and so her parents will bury her in the family vault, where Romeo is supposed to meet her.

In the following extract, Juliet speaks about her fears before drinking the potion:

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Now you’ve seen one, or both videos, why don’t you try reading one of these scenes, or a favourite scene from another play we’ve published. You should have enough information to let you do that.

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Let’s play!

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Richard Forsyth
‘The Director’
Players-Shakespeare.com

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