English Literature / Drama GCSE: A Midsummer Night’s Dream - Act 1, Scene 2 - The Mechanicals

A group of working men meet to prepare a play for the court.

Quince tries to persuade each of them to take a part.

When some of the Mechanicals object, Bottom suggests that he can play all the parts.

This short film is from the BBC series, Shakespeare Unlocked.

Teacher Notes

This short film provides opportunity for discussion by demonstrating the contrast the Mechanicals offer to the rest of the characters in the play and how this provides comic relief.

As your students watch the scene ask them to jot down what they find out about:

  • The play the Mechanicals are to perform.
  • Why they are performing it; for whom?
  • Who the characters in the play are; and what (where known) happens to them?

Discuss with your students who the Mechanicals are, what role they play in the text, and what purpose they serve dramatically.

Ask them to note down what else they found out about the Mechanicals:

  • How will the Mechanicals perform this play (references to costumes; men playing women, and so on)?
  • What is the audience meant to think about this play?
  • Are we meant to take it seriously? If not, why?

Ask students to share their observations with the rest of the class.

After watching the scene, you could ask your students to reflect on how each character responded to the part they were given?

Who was enthusiastic? Who wasn't? Why?

What concerns did any of the characters raise?

As a class, share your observations.

Ask students to consider what all of the responses tell us about this group of characters?

What problems or challenges might this group of characters face as they begin to rehearse their play?

Curriculum Notes

This short film is suitable for teaching GCSE English literature and drama in England, Wales and Northern Ireland and National 4/ 5 in Scotland.

More from Shakespeare Unlocked - A Midsummer Nights Dream

Act 1, Scene 2 - Clowning around (workshop)
Act 1, Scene 2 - Quince v Bottom (workshop)
Act 2, Scene 1 - The Lovers
Act 2, Scene 1 - Helena and Demetrius (workshop)
Act 2, Scene 1 - Playing Helena (workshop)
Act 2, Scene 1 - The Fairies
Act 2, Scene 1 - Ecological disaster (workshop)
Act 2, Scene 1 - Titania crosses Oberon (workshop)