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Home :: Archive :: 1994 :: April ::
Re: *MND* Doubling
Shakespeare Electronic Conference, Vol. 5, No. 0367.  Wednesday, 27 April 1994.
 
(1)     From:   Stephen Orgel <
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        Date:   Tuesday, 26 Apr 1994 17:32:49 -0700 (PDT)
        Subj:   Re: SHK 5.0364  Q: Titania in *MND*
 
(2)     From:   Chris Langland-Shula <
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        Date:   Tuesday, 26 Apr 1994 23:35:39 -0700 (PDT)
        Subj:   Re: SHK 5.0364 Q: Titania in *MND*
 
(3)     From:   Nick Clary <
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        Date:   Tuesday, 27 Apr 1994 09:01:58 -0500 (EST)
        Subj:   Doubling for Hippolyta in MND
 
(4)     From:   Ronald Dwelle <
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        Date:   Wednesday, 27 Apr 94 09:45:41 EST
        Subj:   repressed libido
 
 
(1)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Stephen Orgel <
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Date:           Tuesday, 26 Apr 1994 17:32:49 -0700 (PDT)
Subject: 5.0364  Q: Titania in *MND*
Comment:        Re: SHK 5.0364  Q: Titania in *MND*
 
Danny Scheie's wonderful MND at Santa Cruz two years ago had Oberon and Titania
double Theseus and Hippolyta in reverse--ie, Th. played Titania, and Hip.
played Oberon. Since the Theseus was a very handsome, very tough and military
black actor, and as Titania wore a blonde wig and a tutu, s/he was rather less
convincing than the H/O, who was terrific in both roles. The Indian boy,
moreover, was a blatant sex object: a mostly naked 19 year old, who lounged
around onstage for most of the performance looking sulky and very sexy. I know
this doesn't answer the question, but it might give you some good ideas.
 
Cheers,
S.O.
 
(2)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Chris Langland-Shula <
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Date:           Tuesday, 26 Apr 1994 23:35:39 -0700 (PDT)
Subject: 5.0364 Q: Titania in *MND*
Comment:        Re: SHK 5.0364 Q: Titania in *MND*
 
The choice of doubling the roles of Titania/Hippolyta and Oberon/Theseus
creates some difficulties in a theme that I find to be running through the
play's resolution, that of finding a common ground for understanding.  For one
thing, it weakens the impact of IV.i, when all the parties are able to lucidly
resolve their differences.  If the two have already come to a reconciliation
earlier in the scene, the dialogue between Theseus and Hippolyta on the hounds
is turned into idle small talk, rather than the finding of a common ground
between them.  This reduces the power of the moment, and weakens the theme of
compromise and understanding.
 
It also creates contradiction, in that Theseus and Hippolyta fought each other,
and are truly getting to know each other for the first time, while it is
assumed Oberon and Titania have been lovers and rulers since the dawn of
creation.  How can there be familiarity and distance present at the same time?
On a textual note, Titania reprimands Oberon for diddling around with
Hippolyta, and Oberon reminds Titania that she is seeing Theseus.  With the
parts doubled, the audience finds that they are accusing each other of
infidelity to each other with each other.
 
In a nutshell, there are many problems and inconsistencies with the doubling of
the parts.  To make it truly effective, there must be a greater theme that is
reinforced by the doubling, as to distract from the inconsistencies.  I
personally can not find one.
 
Chris Langland-Shula

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UCLA Theatre Dept.
 
(3)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Nick Clary <
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Date:           Tuesday, 27 Apr 1994 09:01:58 -0500 (EST)
Subject:        Doubling for Hippolyta in MND
 
While it is certainly true that the doubling of these roles often occurs in
even the earliest recorded performances of MND, I have recently begun to
wonder about the doubling question as it may pertain to ritual practices.
Whatever the occasion for the first performance of this play, the fact remains
that the Pyramus and Thisby interlude is part of the wedding festivities for
Theseus and his Amazonian bride (a revel among the solemnities).  In this
light, I have found the following passage in Oesterley's THE SACRED DANCE: A
STUDY IN COMPARATIVE FOLKLORE quite fascinating:
 
        Very widely spread is the custom of calling the bridegroom
        and the bride "king" and "queen," and of treating them as a
        royal pair during the whole period of the wedding festivities.
        The reason for this was originally that, by means of change of
        identity, the bridal pair might avoid the mysterious dangers
        which were supposed to be present.  The idea presumably was
        that a disguise puzzled malign visitors so that they did not
        know on whom to vent their spleen.  It is evident that a
        similar purpose was served by the custom of substituting a
        mock bride for the real one, or of a bride and bridegroom
        being attended by one or more persons dressed up to resemble
        her or him; Crawley gives interestings illustrations of both
        customs [here Oesterley cites THE MYSTIC ROSE, 337 ff.).
 
Though perhaps not immediately pertinent to your particular project, I invite
you to muse a bit on the implications of what Oesterley has described.
 
Nick Clary
 
(4)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Ronald Dwelle <
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Date:           Wednesday, 27 Apr 94 09:45:41 EST
Subject:        repressed libido
 
Scott Crozier asks: "...yet if they are doubled and the play does start and end
in harmony then why would a freed libido of Titania give up her Indian boy to a
repressive Oberon?"
 
My thoughts: repressing freed female libidos sounds like marital harmony to me,
1595-wise. (Guess we won't call this one a "universal," eh?)
 

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