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Home :: Archive :: 1993 :: March ::
Bears and Dogs in Shakespearean Productions
Shakespeare Electronic Conference, Vol. 4, No. 186.  Monday, 22 March 1993.
 
(1)     From:   Rasa Hollender <
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        Date:   Monday, 22 Mar 1993 13:26 EST
        Subj:   Re: SHK 4.0183  Re: Real Bear in *WT*
 
(2)     From:   Karin Youngberg <
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        Date:   Monday, 22 Mar 93 15:21:48 GMT-600
        Subj:   Re: SHK 4.0183  Re: Real Bear in *WT*
 
(3)     From:   Ron Macdonald <
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        Date:   Monday, 22 Mar 1993 11:06:06 -0400 (EDT)
        Subj:   Stage dogs
 
(4)     From:   Helen Ostovich <
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        Date:   Monday, 22 Mar 1993 15:56:10 -0500 (EST)
        Subj:   Re: SHK 4.0180 Real Dog in *TGV*; Q: London Flat
 
 
(1)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Rasa Hollender <
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Date:           Monday, 22 Mar 1993 13:26 EST
Subject: 4.0183  Re: Real Bear in *WT*
Comment:        Re: SHK 4.0183  Re: Real Bear in *WT*
 
There was a production somewhere (though I'm not sure where) of *WT*
in which the play opened with the action taking place in a large
room with a huge fake bear skin rug covering the stage floor.
When time came to Exit followed by a bear, the bear skin was somehow
hooked up to a rope pully system, rose up, and "chased" the
character out...
 
   Rasa L. Hollender
 
(2)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Karin Youngberg <
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Date:           Monday, 22 Mar 93 15:21:48 GMT-600
Subject: 4.0183  Re: Real Bear in *WT*
Comment:        Re: SHK 4.0183  Re: Real Bear in *WT*
 
> The real bear in WT: I am also curious about contemporary productions. While
> wandering through the Berkeley Repertory Theatre costume shop, I saw their
> bear suit, and at Shakespeare Santa Cruz a HUGE bear puppet entered amidst a
> cloud of fog. Other solutions?
 
I have seen a production that just used the sound of storm and
animals and human screams to good effect.  Also I have seen a WT
that projected the shadow of a bear onto a rear screen.  That worked
well, too.
 
Karin Youngberg
 
(3)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Ron Macdonald <
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Date:           Monday, 22 Mar 1993 11:06:06 -0400 (EDT)
Subject:        Stage dogs
 
While acknowledging that there is no evidence that a dog actually appeared
in the role of Crab in _Two Gentleman_, Bert O. States has some wonderful
observations about the possibility of a live dog in Shakespeare's play
and elsewhere.  Among them:
 
  What surprises us, of course, is that the dog _can_ be used in
  the play, that it unknowingly cooperates in creating the illusion.
  And this surprise arises fro our observation of the dog as a
  dog-in-itself.  Questions like this might occur: Isn't it inter-
  esting that the dog will submit to being on stage?  Then, of
  course, the answer: It _isn't_ submitting, it is simply being
  itself.  What if it barks?  Urinates?  Obviously, even these
  natural acts, like the abuse of the boy actors, would contribute
  to further comedy.  So the illusion has suddenly become a field
  of play, of "what if"?  The illusion has introduced something into
  itself to demonstrate its tolerance of _things_.  It is not the
  world that has invaded the illusion; the illusion has stolen
  something from the world in order to display its own power.  Finally,
  one also suspects that an element of self-parody enters the play
  with the dog.  The whole enterprise of theatrical illusion gets
  gently debunked, a freedom Shakespeare was fond of indulging...
  The theater has, so to speak, met its match: the dog is blissfully
  above, or beneath, the business of playing, and we find ourselves
  cheerings its performance precisely because it isn't one.
 
For further thoughts well worth consulting, see _Great Reckonings in
Little Rooms: On the Phenomenology of Theater (U.Calif. Press, 1985),
pp. 32ff.
                           --Ron Macdonald <
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(4)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Helen Ostovich <
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Date:           Monday, 22 Mar 1993 15:56:10 -0500 (EST)
Subject: 4.0180 Real Dog in *TGV*; Q: London Flat
Comment:        Re: SHK 4.0180 Real Dog in *TGV*; Q: London Flat
 
Concerning Michael Friedman's comment that Launce needs at least an
imaginary dog to play off:  yes, I agree, especially in 2.3.  But the
actual on-stage props need include only a pair of shoes and a wooden
staff.  The dog might be represented by a lead or leash of some kind, with
the imaginary dog just off-stage.  The same trick could be used in 4.4,
though again it's easier to provide a real dog.  My comment is based on
the fact that no dog appears in the stage directions or cast list.  One of
the best dog-substitutes I ever saw was one used by an improv troupe at
Toronto's Harbourfront "Shakespeare in the Pond" series, where Launce
stood up to his knees in the pond, accompanied by a buoy on a rope.  The
buoy was a wonderfully bouncing puppy, splashing actor and audience alike,
and clearly demonstrating its lack of good manners.
 
Helen Ostovich

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