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Home :: Archive :: 1995 :: November ::
Skinhead & 15 Min. Ham; Julius Caesar; Performance
Shakespeare Electronic Conference, Vol. 6, No. 0862. Wednesday, 1 November 1995.
 
(1)     From:   Geoffrey Stewart <
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        Date:   Tuesday, 31 Oct 1995 08:58:32 -0800
        Subj:   Skinhead Hamlet
 
(2)     From:   C. David Frankel <
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        Date:   Monday, 30 Oct 1995 23:24:18 -0500 (EST)
        Subj:   Re: SHK 6.0857 Qs: 15-Min. Ham.
 
(3)     From:   Steve Sohmer <
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        Date:   Monday, 30 Oct 1995 21:42:43 -0500
        Subj:   Re: SHK 6.0856 Re: Horatio; Banquo; Luther; Jews
 
(4)     From:   David Akin <
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        Date:   Tuesday, 31 Oct 1995 19:46:57 -0500
        Subj:   British/American performance
 
 
(1)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Geoffrey Stewart <
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Date:           Tuesday, 31 Oct 1995 08:58:32 -0800
Subject:        Skinhead Hamlet
 
Fellow Shakespeareans,
 
Rod Osiowy's mention of the 15-Minute Hamlet reminds me of another version of
the play called the "Skinhead Hamlet". A professor of mine in college showed
this to me once, and I remember it as a *very* short (6-7 pages at most)
version of the play, with some extremely spicy language. Does anyone out there
have a copy of this parody? I would love to see it again, as it was most
amusing (it manages to capture the essence of each scene using three or four
speeches of usually  five words or less, at least two of them unsuitable for
repetition in front of the children.) Please allow modern technology to rescue
me from the fact that I never photocopied the play when I last had it in my
hands.
 
                                                        Thank you,
                                                        Geoffrey
 
P.S.- Personal e-mail responses would probably be most appropriate in this case.
 
(2)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           C. David Frankel <
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Date:           Monday, 30 Oct 1995 23:24:18 -0500 (EST)
Subject: 6.0857 Qs: 15-Min. Ham.
Comment:        Re: SHK 6.0857 Qs: 15-Min. Ham.
 
I saw a film loop of the 15-minute Hamlet (The Professor Dogg's Troupe's
_Hamlet_ by William Shakespeare, edited by Tom Stoppard) many years ago. The
performers were, I think, the BART (British-American Reperatroy Theatre).  They
performed on the steps of the newly-opened (or about to be opened) National
Theatre.  As I remember it, there were six performers in Elizabethanish costume
wearing signs hanging from there necks identifying their (sometime changing)
characters.  The performed at a breakneck speed as befits a farce (except for
Shakespeare in the prologue; he took a more leisurely pace).  It was very
funny.
 
As you probably know, Stoppard incorporated this piece into his play, _Dogg's
Hamlet and Cahoots Macbeth_.
 
C. David Frankel

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(3)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Steve Sohmer <
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Date:           Monday, 30 Oct 1995 21:42:43 -0500
Subject: 6.0856 Re: Horatio; Banquo; Luther; Jews
Comment:        Re: SHK 6.0856 Re: Horatio; Banquo; Luther; Jews
 
Replying to Stuart Rice's question about who played whom in Julius Caesar and
Hamlet. After spending the last three years working on Julius Caesar, I've come
to believe that Shakespeare played Julius Caesar. I base this on two puns. One,
when Antony says "When Caesar sayes, Do this; it is perform'd." And, later,
when Cassius growls that Caesar "bad the Romans / Marke him, and write his
Speeches in their Bookes..." There is, of course, no evidence that Caesar
ordered the Romans to write down his speeches in their books in Plutarch. But,
of course, the playwright Shakespeare determined which actions would be
"perform'd" and caused his "Romans" to memorize his speeches. Burbage, I
believe, played Brutus.
 
As to the casting in Hamlet, it has long been thought that Shakespeare played
the Ghost of Old Hamlet. Now that I have been working hard on this play, I
agree. And I further believe that Shakespeare played Polonius as well. That is,
Shakespeare played the father of both children, Hamlet and Ophelia.
Shakespeare, of course, had a son Hamnet, christened 2 February 1585. If
Burbage played Brutus, there is a wonderful gloss of comedy when
Shakespeare-Caesar-Polonius declares "I was killed i'th' Capitol. Brutus killed
me." And Burbage-Brutus-Hamlet tells the house, "It was a brute part of him to
kill so capital a calf there." The phrase "killing the calf" was, I'm told, the
Elizabethan equivalent of "eating the scenery" to describe over-acting.
 
Of course, there is one scene in Hamlet in which Polonius and Old Hamlet are
on-stage at the same time: the confrontation in Gertrude's closet. Would anyone
care to speculate as to whether the body of the slain Polonius hidden by the
arras when Old Hamlet's Ghost appears?
 
All the best,
Steve Sohmer
 
(4)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           David Akin <
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Date:           Tuesday, 31 Oct 1995 19:46:57 -0500
Subject:        British/American performance
 
>There seems to be a general conceit that American directors approach
>Shakespeare differently than British directors. Would anyone care to posit why
>that might be so, and what those differences might be? Is it a question of
>academic (ie literary) training, or technical acting differences, or
>presumptions about audience familiarity with the plays, or what? Is there such
>a difference? Is it different for comedy than for the tragedies, the histories
>or the romances? How would you characterize the "American" style, and the
>"British"? Any and all comments would be welcome and very useful.
 
Audiences and critics at The Stratford Festival and The Shaw Festival (Ontario,
Canada) are happily exposed to actors from both backgrounds. While conceding
the dangers of broad generalizations, some observations on the extremes of
performers performing Shakespeare's or contemporarys' work from both
traditions:
 
AMERICAN: Weak with text; physical; brawny; instinctive; loud; innocent
BRITISH: Smart, subtle, witty, poetic, cerebral; mysterious
 
I find those trained at Canadian schools and institutions to be able to perform
at a happy medium between such extremes.
 
David Akin                      
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