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Home :: Archive :: 1994 :: April ::
Re: Doubling in *MND*
Shakespeare Electronic Conference, Vol. 5, No. 0376.  Friday, 29 April 1994.
 
(1)     From:   Bill Gelber <
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        Date:   Thursday, 28 Apr 1994 08:54:52 -0500
        Subj:   Re: SHK 5.0373  Re: *MND* Doubling
 
(2)     From:   Thomas L. Berger <TBER@SLUMUS>
        Date:   Thursday, 28 Apr 94 12:42:21 EST
        Subj:   RE: MND DOUBLING
 
(3)     From:   Bruce Avery <
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        Date:   Thursday, 28 Apr 1994 14:38:31 -0800
        Subj:   Doublings in MND
 
(4)     From:   Marie Myers <
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        Date:   Thursday, 28 Apr 1994 19:04:54 -0500
        Subj:   MND doubling
 
(5)     From:   Tom Davey <IZZYOM8@UCLAMVS.BITNET>
        Date:   Thursday, 28 Apr 94 21:33 PDT
        Subj:   *MND* Doubling
 
 
(1)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Bill Gelber <
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Date:           Thursday, 28 Apr 1994 08:54:52 -0500
Subject: 5.0373  Re: *MND* Doubling
Comment:        Re: SHK 5.0373  Re: *MND* Doubling
 
>Personally, I think doubling literalizes and impoverishes the analogies between
>the two pairs of characters. The play teases us into looking at Athens in the
>light of the forest--and forest in the light of Athens. Doubling prompts us to
>feel that Athens=forest. Too categorical, too reductive.
>
>Bill Kemp
 
The reason that I favor doubling, although not particularly when it comes to
those roles, is the practical one of having good actors who can play two or
three small parts throughout the production.  What tends to happen (and this
is, of course, a sweeping generalization) is that someone like Marcade in LLL
has one line which he spends the entire play waiting to say and then blows it,
whereas when you double him with someone like Nathaniel, he is warmed up and
you also have the skilled actor playing a tiny part.  (Also, in that case, when
I directed LLL, I could have Nathaniel go out the back of the stage for the
play-within-the-play, change costumes and return through the curtains as
Marcade, surprising the court.)
 
I'm enjoying the conference very much.
 
Bill Gelber
University of Texas
 
(2)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Thomas L. Berger <TBER@SLUMUS>
Date:           Thursday, 28 Apr 94 12:42:21 EST
Subject:        RE: MND DOUBLING
 
The doubling of Theseus and Hippolyta with Oberon and Titania, in whatever
fashion, is made difficult by the text, which has Oberon and Titania exiting at
line 102 of 4.1, Thesues and Hippolyta entering immediately thereafter.  Yes, I
know: picky, picky, picky.
 
(3)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Bruce Avery <
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Date:           Thursday, 28 Apr 1994 14:38:31 -0800
Subject:        Doublings in MND
 
As long as Professor Orgel mentioned Danny Scheie's MND of a few years ago, I
might as well throw my two cents in.  I was dramaturg on that production, and
Danny's idea behind the chyasmic doubling, in which the Duke played the Titania
and Hyppolyta played Oberon, was that in the forest repressed aspects of
personality could emerge, aspects that the official world of Athens forbade.
The Duke, for example, spends much verbiage discounting poetry, but does so in
the best poetry of the play.  Ergo, he really likes poetry but can't admit to
it in the macho military world he inhabits.  In the forest, "feminine" aspects
of his personality come out, pardon the pun.  Likewise the young lovers:
perhaps Lysander really does, underneath it all, love Helena rather than
Hermia.  The Hipolytta-Oberon connection is easy to make.  She's butch and so
is he.  To go with the forest as unconscious motif he stole bits and pieces
from every previous famous production of MND, as well as some basic Cecil B
DeMille approaches to show biz, so that the play became a fantasia of images
rising from the unconscious of theater history.  It was all good fun.  But it
does, I think, offer a rationale for doubling the roles, even if one wants to
retain gender consistency instead.
 
Oh, and while we're at it, I wonder why no one has pursued the other important
attribution of Oxford.  He must have written Mozart's music, because, just as
no mere peasant could have written Shakespeare's works, no seven-year-old could
have written a symphony.  Q.E.D.
 
Cheers, Bruce Avery
 
(4)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Marie Myers <
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Date:           Thursday, 28 Apr 1994 19:04:54 -0500
Subject:        MND doubling
 
I know I shouldn't hit and run (a lurker who'll be away from my modem for two
weeks), but I'd like to respond to ideas tossed about doubling in MND.  I don't
get a clear sense of the kind of MND Scott Crozier wants to stage -- a "dark"
Dream or a comedy? The freed libido/Titania-repressive/Oberon probably works
well in the thesis, but sounds a strait-jacket for a staged production.
 
Regarding Chris Langland-Shula's observation that "with the parts doubled, the
audience finds that they are accusing each other of infidelity to each other
with each other."  From the rest of the posting, I had the impression that this
is to be avoided. Why? Sounds great to me.  I hope we won't rehearse old
shibboleths about audiences being "confused" by doubles? Howell's H6 plays for
the BBC show how neatly repertory doubling works for present-day audiences.
 
Note Stephen Orgels' comment about the UCSC MND: the criss-cross gender casting
for the doubling has no legit interpretative value, but probably was great
theater.  I suspect the audience didn't sit there scratching their heads over
such inconsistencies. Brannagh's *Dead Again* plays with such a double-crossed
doubling. Too cleverly, maybe, but entertainingly.
 
I agree with William Kemp's remarks doubling being "too categorical, too
reductive"--when written about, that is; not when performed. Essays tends to
make a big deal about the "thematic relevance" of this or that doubled pair,
but when I see doublings during the performance of a play, they constitute only
a part of the experience, usually a small part of it.  Nevertheless, an enjoyed
part. And usually, seeing interesting doubles encourages me to think less
rigidly about casting. How about Shylock and Old Gobbo? Henry V and Chorus?
Bassanio and both Morocco and Arragon?   ???
 
Marie Myers

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(5)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Tom Davey <IZZYOM8@UCLAMVS.BITNET>
Date:           Thursday, 28 Apr 94 21:33 PDT
Subject:        *MND* Doubling
 
The thematic complications of doubling Oberon/Titania with Theseus/Hippolyta
don't seem to be as troublesome as the staging complication presented by 4.1.
 
At 4.1.102 Oberon and Titania exit. Theseus and Hippolyta enter at the VERY
NEXT LINE. No editorial scene division is usual here.
 
Even if one were to forgo the suggested effect of an overlapping exit/entrance,
it seems that a doubled performance would have to stop however briefly while
the actors make a costume change of some sort. Naturally, I'm curious how this
was handled at the Santa Cruz production Stephen Orgel described: the "very
tough and military black actor" would have to slip doubletime out of his blonde
wig and tutu (as Titania) and into his military costume (as Theseus).
 
And, if we extrapolate from the doubling rules in David Bradley's "From Text to
Performance in the Elizabethan Theater: Preparing the Play for the Stage"
(Cambridge: 1992), this same lack of a break for a costuming change would have
meant the roles would NOT have been doubled in contemporary productions.
 
                        Dreamily,
                        Tom Davey, UCLA
 

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