When the American Shakespeare Center in Staunton, VA had to close its playhouse due to the pandemic, I audited their online classes as a reporter for The American Interest.
During a discussion of alliteration, one smaller girl, attending the class with her big sister, stumbles on Bottom’s tongue-twister of a line, “I trust to take of truest Thisbe sight.” She throws herself into the cushions of her couch in frustration and embarrassment. Wallace is undaunted, having her try again and telling everyone, “If you’re worried you’ll mispronounce a word, please go ahead and mispronounce it with gusto.”
A reader’s error can be fruitful, prompting the group to pause and ask what kind of choice a knotty passage opens for an actor. Should Bottom, an over-the-top actor, overenunciate his lines in Midsummer’s play-within-a-play? Would the rude mechanicals that make up his troupe also get tripped up by the line? Could he be cheating with a crib sheet attached to the actor playing Wall?