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Home :: Archive :: 2001 :: January ::
Re: Shakespeare The Player
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 12.0025  Friday, 5 January 2001

[1]     From:   Harry Hill <
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        Date:   Wednesday, 3 Jan 2001 10:52:43 EST
        Subj:   Re: SHK 12.0021 Re: Shakespeare The Player

[2]     From:   Ching-hsi Perng <
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        Date:   Thursday, 04 Jan 2001 03:23:46 +0800
        Subj:   Re: SHK 12.0021 Re: Shakespeare The Player

[3]     From:   Paul E. Doniger <
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        Date:   Wednesday, 3 Jan 2001 21:15:51 -0800
        Subj:   SHK 12.0007 Shakespeare The Player by John Southworth


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Harry Hill <
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Date:           Wednesday, 3 Jan 2001 10:52:43 EST
Subject: 12.0021 Re: Shakespeare The Player
Comment:        Re: SHK 12.0021 Re: Shakespeare The Player

Doubling the leads in Comedy of Errors is a technical feat that
considerably increases the audience's enjoyment. In Stratford {UK} in
1990 there was such a performance, totally thrilling in its fun.

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Ching-hsi Perng <
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Date:           Thursday, 04 Jan 2001 03:23:46 +0800
Subject: 12.0021 Re: Shakespeare The Player
Comment:        Re: SHK 12.0021 Re: Shakespeare The Player

> >Some of what he has to say about doubling is entertaining. He believes
> >in "COMEDY OF ERRORS" the part of the twin Dromios were both played by
> >Kempe, and that the twin Antipholuses (Antipholi?) were also doubled,
> >although he doesn't speculate as to who played them. I would think that
> >doubling the twins would be confusing to an audience, not to mention the
> >problems it would cause in the last scene.
>
>Actually the doubling of the twins works very well -- until the
>recognition scene. I was in such a production, and if you have strong
>actors doing Antipholus and Dromio (as we did), the audience is never
>confused. The problem of the last scene comes with finding actors who
>look sufficiently like the leads to bring it off well. But that, of
>course, applies to not-doubling as well (which also requires that all
>four actors be strong). I suspect that Southworth may have been in a
>doubled production and so made that assumption.

>don

Indeed I've seen a very effective performance of the play by RSC in
Taipei, with doubling of the twins. The two roles were differentiated by
slightly different colors in their suits. The slight confusion on the
part of the audience actually contributed to its effectiveness. And in
the last scene, since all the identities are clarified, it does not
matter that much if one of the twins has to be replaced; in any case,
the costume can help conceal the difference.

Best,
Ching-Hsi Perng
Department of Foreign Languages and Literatures
National Taiwan University

[3]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Paul E. Doniger <
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Date:           Wednesday, 3 Jan 2001 21:15:51 -0800
Subject: Shakespeare The Player by John Southworth
Comment:        SHK 12.0007 Shakespeare The Player by John Southworth

Richard Nathan wrote:

> Has anyone read the new book "SHAKESPEARE THE PLAYER - A Life In The
> Theatre" by John Southworth?  ...

> (Southworth believes Shakespeare played the Duke in "Comedy of Errors.")
>
> Southworth also believes Shakespeare himself doubled the roles of the
> Ghost and Claudius in "HAMLET."  This seems very unlikely.  If
> Shakespeare had played Claudius as well as the Ghost, I would imagine it
> would have been mentioned by whoever it was that claimed Shakespeare
> played the Ghost in "HAMLET" and Adam in "AS YOU LIKE IT" (although I
> know that claim is suspect in the first place).

I believe that the theory that Shakespeare played the Ghost is generally
accepted. Thomas W. Baldwin (_The Organization and Personnel of the
Shakespearean Company_. Princeton UP, 1927.) agreed, but he also did not
even suggest that Shakespeare may have doubled as Claudius; this is a
very tenuous assumption. Admittedly, there is no hard evidence to prove
what Shakespeare played in ANY of his plays, but some traditions (like
the Ghost and Prince Escalus in R&J) seem likely. One thing that does
seem certain is that he never took a leading role. I think that Claudius
probably would have been beyond his interests as an actor, and the
doubling would have been awkward (I've seen it done before, and it can
be done very well, but I always found it contradicts too many basic
tenets of the play-like the contrasting portraits). A better doubling, I
think, is Ghost and First Player, but there is no evidence that
Shakespeare did this, either.

If anyone is familiar with recent research on the subject of casting in
Shakespeare's company, I, for one, am very interested in reading it!

Paul E. Doniger
 

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