| Quote #1
Here, Theseus orders his Master of the Revels to drum up some entertainment and a general party atmosphere. In Shakespeare's day, the Master of the Revels was the title of the royal court's official party planner. He was in charge of hiring entertainers and deciding which plays could be performed on public stages in and around London. He also had the authority to censor plays that were offensive or potentially rebellious in theme or content.
| Quote #2
Here, we learn that the Mechanicals (craftsmen) want to perform a play to help celebrate Duke Theseus's marriage to Hippolyta. When Shakespeare wrote A Midsummer Night's Dream, craftsmen didn't usually run around putting on plays like this. Back in early medieval England, though, guilds of craftsmen got together each year and put on plays for the Corpus Christi festival. Shakespeare's "Mechanicals" are a shout-out to the medieval craftsmen who moonlighted as amateur actors each year.
| Quote #3
Quince announces that the Mechanicals want to perform Pyramus and Thisbe, the classic story of two young lovers who meet a tragic end after trying to elope. It's obvious that Quince and Bottom don't know anything about the difference between the genres of comedy and tragedy. They imagine performing Pyramus and Thisbe as a "lamentable comedy" and Bottom even suggests the play will be "merry." As it turns out, their performance in Act 5, Scene 1 is pretty hilarious, but only because the Mechanicals are terrible actors and know nothing about staging plays.
We also want to point out that the basic story line of Pyramus and Thisbe echoes what happens to Hermia and Lysander in Act 1, Scene 1 when they're forbidden to marry. (Yes, Shakespeare also had Pyramus and Thisbe in mind when he wrote Romeo and Juliet. Shakespeare likely read the story of Pyramus and Thisbe in Book 4 of Ovid's Metamorphoses, which was translated from Latin into to English in 1565 by a guy named Arthur Golding. You can check out our summary of Book 4 of the Metamorphoses here.