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Home :: Archive :: 2000 :: September ::
Re: Doubling in Macbeth
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 11.1788  Friday, 22 September 2000.

From:           Don Bloom <
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Date:           Thursday, 21 Sep 2000 09:57:59 -0500
Subject: 11.1774 Re: Doubling in Macbeth
Comment:        Re: SHK 11.1774 Re: Doubling in Macbeth

Nicholas:

Agreed. I said as much when I said that the play is strong enough to
withstand all kinds of tinkering (provided, of course, you don't lose or
damage the primary dynamic of Macbeth's self-destruction through
success).  My point is based on a kind of aesthetic profit and loss
sheet. How much do you lose compared to how much you gain? I think
directors commonly throw away millions in order to gain a few thousands
with some bit of "originality."

As another actor once plaintively said to me, "Let's just do the
bleeping play."

Some years I ago I played Duncan (doubling the Old Man) in a cast that
included two very fine student actors playing Banquo and Macbeth. Their
interaction was very well developed, even when Banquo had just a few
lines.  Cutting him from the scenes I mentioned would to me have been a
serious (though not fatal) loss to the impact of the play on the
audience -- which is why we do it, or so I assume. Some people find
doing Shakespeare straight (and don't ask me precisely what I mean by
that) to lack challenge and thus interest. Others (including myself)
find it more so.

On the other hand, I can well imagine circumstances in which doing what
you suggest makes perfect sense. Suppose you belonged to a small
repertory company (say, four men, two women), traveling, or working on a
shoestring budget. You wish to do as much of the original text as
possible, so you double, and double, and double, cutting only where
absolutely necessary.  You are still serving the text, even though you
have changed it some. And you are still serving the audience because
they know going in that they are getting that kind of performance and
not some full-blown production with bit players and supers for the
alarums and excursion and all that. The losses are no less real, but are
off-set by the fact that you are able to do it at all. (And sometimes,
heaven help us, even professional productions would be improved by
cutting out the weaker cast members who just can't handle Shakespeare.)

Probably that is what you meant all long, and we are more agreement than
we first thought.

don bloom
 

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