Pyramus and Thisbe
Pyramus and Thisbe is a story of forbidden love. The two lovers are separated by a wall and their parents’ mutual hatred. In spite of their parents’ hate, the young boy and girl speak through a crack in the wall that separates their homes and they fall in love. They decide to run off with one another.
You can find the original story of Pyramus and Thisbe from Ovid’s Metamorphoses here.
If you are squeamish about reading your children stories of love, death, suicide, war . . . then my approach may not sit well with you. I believe that these concepts are already in the minds of children, particularly if your family has already had to deal with these issues in real life, and it is best to explore them together so that your children know they can discuss anything with you. The Bible is full of all the same experiences and yet, people teach Bible stories early and often. The story of Pyramus and Thisbe involves love and suicide so discern when you think you want to introduce the story.
Once you read the original story, you can listen to a Midsummer Night’s Dream. Here is an affiliate link for Jim Weiss’s version.
In Act 5, the final act, there is a play within a play. The actors from a visiting troupe perform Pyramus and Thisbe for the characters in the Midsummer Night’s Dream and they perform it poorly. And that they perform it poorly creates the perfect opportunity for your family or homeschool group to do the same and not have the pressure to perform it well. It is really fun to see the different ways children choose to perform it poorly.
I have included a script that cuts out the interplay of the actors from the main Midsummer Night’s Story in order to simplify the process.
Costumes and Props: costume for male and female from the desired time period, wall costume, lion costume, sword, red scarf for blood.
Again, in the context of A Midsummer Night’s Dream, the play is intended to be performed poorly which makes it fun for all ages. Depending on the age and time allotted, you can have them read from the script, memorize the full text as it is written, or highlight certain parts of the texts and read or memorize those.
The Pyramus and Thisbe storyline arises in another Shakespeare play. Can you guess? Here is an affiliate link for Jim Weiss’s version.
I had tickets to see the Fantasticks at Playhouse Square in Cleveland, which is the largest performing arts center outside of New York. If ever in Cleveland, it is a great place to see a show. I didn’t know anything about the musical before I went (I like to be surprised) . . . and I was so excited to discover that it was a variation of Pyramus and Thisbe! I prefer seeing musicals in person but if you enjoy watching old movies, here is a version featuring the Lion from Wizard of Oz and Ricardo Montalban from Fantasy Island. You also get to see some vintage Hallmark commercials which is fun.
They Were You is one of my favorite songs in musical theater and it is from the Fantasticks. I had to include this wedding video where the groom and bride sing at the altar . . . it is so simple and sincere.
The plot of two young people falling in love against the wishes of their parents is just one of the many recurring plots found in literature and it has endless variations.
References to Greek Myths and their characters also surface over and over again. My favorite book, the book that endured the most wear and tear in our home, and the book I was most excited to read to the kids, is D’Aulaire’s Book of Greek Myths. This is an affiliate link.
What is an ancient story you loved reading to your kids? Have you found a modern day remake of that story?
Artwork by Eden Truax . . . we think.