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Home :: Archive :: 1992 :: October ::
Shakespeare's Play-Crafting
Shakespeare Electronic Conference, Vol. 3, No. 262.  Saturday, 17 October 1992.
 
From: 		Tom Loughlin <LOUGHLIN@FREDONIA.BITNET>
Date: 		Saturday, Oct. 17, 1992, 6:05 pm EDT (22:05:14 UT)
Subject: 	Shakespeare's Play-Crafting
 
   The issues raised in discussing the death of Lady Montague are
all very  interesting.   In  looking  at  this  matter  of actors
doubling in roles and  the parts falling out conveniently  enough
to do so,  I think some  words in the  defense  of the  practical
aspects might be in order.
   I've acted in enough  Shakespearean companies by this time  to
know that any company trying to make money (or at the  very least
break even) will hire the least amount of actors it takes  to get
the job done.  At  this summer's Wisconsin Shakespeare  Festival,
the company consisted  of 14 men  and three  women.   Needless to
say, there was plenty of doubling.  In *King Lear*,  the standard
doubling  of  Cornwall/Doctor  was  employed.   There  have  been
companies  who have  doubled the  part of  Cordelia/Fool (we  did
not).   We  doubled  like the  dickens  in  *Pericles* (I  played
Helicanus, First  Fisherman, Pander and  Sailor.  The women  were
doubling  as   Thaisa/Bawd  and  Antiochus'   Daughter/Lychorida/
Marina).  We doubled Morocco/Duke in *Merchant*.
   I think one thing we cannot overlook in studying Shakespeare's
dramaturgy is that he was *terribly* interested in  making money.
The time-honored way  to do that  in the theatre  is hire as  few
actors as you can  and pay them as little  as you can.  I see  no
reason to  assume Shakespeare did  not do likewise.   Keeping his
company relatively small, doubling parts and writing the plays so
that parts  could be  doubled would  all be  practical steps  any
theatrical  producer  would  take  to  make  a  profit.   William
Shakespeare, Esq.,  partner of the  business known  as  the Globe
Theatre, probably took those steps with an eye to his  box office
and his bottom line.
 
      ---------------------------------------------------------------
      Tom Loughlin                *   BITNET
      Dept. of Theatre Arts       *    loughlin@fredonia
      SUNY College at Fredonia    *   INTERNET
      Fredonia NY 14063           *    
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      Voice: 716.673.3597         *
      Fax:   716.673.3397         *   "Hail, hail Freedonia, land of
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