Throughout A Midsummer Night's Dream, a humble group of Athenian craftsmen (the Mechanicals) practice a play they hope to stage at Theseus's wedding celebration. The play is Pyramus and Thisbe and its performance takes up nearly all of Act 5, Scene 1, where the craftsmen comically bumble their way through what's supposed to be a classic tragedy. By focusing so much attention on this play-within-the-play, Shakespeare has ample time to reflect on his own art and to ask the following questions: What is it that makes good theater? Can anyone be an actor? What kind of person is an ideal audience member? Can uneducated commoners appreciate art? The answers to these questions can vary, but, for the most part, the performance of Pyramus and Thisbe functions as a parody of bad theater and reminds us that being a stage actor is craft that requires intellect and its own set of skills.
A Midsummer Night's Dream suggests that acting is a craft that requires intelligence, education, and skill.
Although the Mechanicals' performance of Pyramus and Thisbe is unnecessary in terms of furthering the plot of A Midsummer Night's Dream, the play-within-the-play serves an important function because it allows Shakespeare to explore the nature of his own art.