Monday, December 10, 2012

The Beatles Perform "A Midsummer Night's Dream"


In 1964, the Beatles performed parts of Act V of Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night's Dream for British television.  
I had no idea.
As my students were doing independent research on Shakespeare, one of them, Lily, told me that she had found the Beatles doing a version of A Midsummer Night's Dream on Youtube.  I was skeptical, as I usually know all that is worth knowing when it comes to both the Beatles and Shakespeare, but a quick google search proved Lily right.  

Here are the Beatles, in May of 1964, just a few weeks before the release of A Hard Day's Night, performing Act V, scene i of Midsummer for British television.  The lads play the mechanicals, and, though John gets the biggest laughs dressed up as Thisbe, it's Paul who almost manages to deliver a few lines properly as Pyramus.  Ringo is the Lion and George plays Moonshine.

Though Beatlemania had been in full roar for at least seven months by this point, it's remarkable how assured the young Fabs are in this performance.  


Pyramus 

    I fear my Thisby's promise is forgot! 
    And thou, O wall, O sweet, O lovely wall, 
    That stand'st between her father's ground and mine! 
    Thou wall, O wall, O sweet and lovely wall, 
    Show me thy chink, to blink through with mine eyne! 

    But what see I? No Thisby do I see. 
    O wicked wall, through whom I see no bliss! 
    Cursed be thy stones for thus deceiving me! 

Thisbe 

    O wall, full often hast thou heard my moans, 
    For parting my fair Pyramus and me! 
    My cherry lips have often kiss'd thy stones, 
    Thy stones with lime and hair knit up in thee. 

Pyramus 

    I see a voice: now will I to the chink, 
    To spy an I can hear my Thisby's face. Thisby! 

Thisbe 

    My love thou art, my love I think. 

Wall 

    Thus have I, Wall, my part discharged so; 
    And, being done, thus Wall away doth go.

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