Shakespeare Electronic Conference, Vol. 2, No. 157. Thursday, 6 Jun 1991.
From: Ken Steele <
Subject: Doubling & Double Bills in Performance
Date: Thu, 6 Jun 91 15:33:35 EDT
Dear Fellow SHAKSPEReans;
I have always been curious about the potential for doublings in
Shakespeare's plays -- the most obvious examples are a single actor
playing Hippolyta and Titania in *MSND*, or perhaps Cordelia and the
Fool in *KL*. Are there any reliable guides to such doubling
possibilities throughout the canon? Has anyone seen particularly
effective doublings in modern performances of Shakespeare?
I'm also curious about the possibility of taking doubling one step
further, to double bills. Here in Stratford, Ontario, we recently saw
a double bill of *Titus Andronicus* and *The Comedy of Errors*, for
example, which jammed two radically-cut texts into a single evening's
entertainment (and added some textually-harmless sight gags to connect
the two plays). I believe that the RSC also did such a double bill
with *TA* and *CE* -- are there any other common candidates? Has
anyone seen effective juxtapositions -- I'm thinking of the
concentrated "intertextuality" of *RJ* and *MSND*, for example, or
even *Othello* and *WT*, as fascinating partners...
And my perhaps wild imagination (which has not yet had sufficient
experience in the ways of stagecraft) also wonders whether a production has
ever (or COULD ever) be staged or filmed which presented a double bill
like *RJ* and *MSND*, not one after the other, but INTERWOVEN -- first
the opening scene of *RJ*, then the opening scene of *MSND*, and so
on, back and forth. Certainly the deaths of Romeo and Juliet would be
a strange experience if immediately followed or preceded by the deaths
of Pyramus and Thisby, and Mercutio's Queen Mab speech would be
striking in immediate juxtaposition with Titania and Bottom...
Obviously this would destroy the tragic/comic tone of both plays, and
perhaps only a Shakespearean interested in the interplay of texts
written back-to-back would THINK of such an exercise -- but then,
Stoppard's *Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead* is pretty
effective, even if it isn't exactly Shakespeare...
Has anyone come across such an experiment, in print or on the stage?
Sorry to ask three questions at once, but I suppose that's the way my