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Home :: Archive :: 2001 :: October ::
Re: Doubling in Macbeth
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 12.2465  Sunday, 28 October 2001

[1]     From:   C. Fortunato <
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        Date:   Friday, 26 Oct 2001 11:24:33 EDT
        Subj:   Re: SHK 12.2456 Re: Doubling in Macbeth

[2]     From:   John Ramsay <
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        Date:   Friday, 26 Oct 2001 11:33:44 -0400
        Subj:   Re: SHK 12.2446 Re: Doubling in Macbeth

[3]     From:   Dana Shilling <
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        Date:   Friday, 26 Oct 2001 12:39:45 -0400
        Subj:   Re: SHK 12.2456 Re: Doubling in Macbeth

[4]     From:   Seija Sinikki <
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        Date:   Friday, 26 Oct 2001 12:09:02 -0800
        Subj:   RE: Doubling in King Lear

[5]     From:   Paul E. Doniger <
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        Date:   Friday, 26 Oct 2001 19:53:57 -0400
        Subj:   Fw: SHK 12.2456 Re: Doubling in Macbeth


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           C. Fortunato <
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Date:           Friday, 26 Oct 2001 11:24:33 EDT
Subject: 12.2456 Re: Doubling in Macbeth
Comment:        Re: SHK 12.2456 Re: Doubling in Macbeth

One of the weirder examples of doubling I've seen was in a production of
Hamlet where the Gravedigger and his friend ("Other") were played by one
person as a total schizophrenic who was having a conversation among his
various personalities.  The actor was VERY good, and the effect was
actually hysterically funny.

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           John Ramsay <
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Date:           Friday, 26 Oct 2001 11:33:44 -0400
Subject: 12.2446 Re: Doubling in Macbeth
Comment:        Re: SHK 12.2446 Re: Doubling in Macbeth

> Hugh Davis mentions that
>
> > Orson Welles film version had Seyton as 3rd Murderer.
> >
> > Polanski's film version had Ross as 3rd Murderer.
> >
> > A Stratford Ontario production about 15 years ago had 3rd Witch as 3rd
> > Murderer. She pulled Fleance out of the way of the attack, wrapped her
> > cloak around him and they disappeared, thanks to the stage lighting.
>
> I have seen and participated in a number of similar doublings, but
> there's an issue not being addressed here. When we talk about doubling,
> do we mean one actor playing two parts or one character being
> incorporated into another? In other words, IS the 3rd Murderer actually
> Seyton (or Ross), or is one actor playing both roles as different
> characters?

In the above productions. Seyton, Ross, 3rd Witch did not change
costumes.

In the case of 3rd Murderer in Macbeth we need a different term from
'doubling' wherein the actor is supposed to be two distinctly different
characters, perhaps 'undisguised doubling'?

John Ramsay

[3]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Dana Shilling <
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Date:           Friday, 26 Oct 2001 12:39:45 -0400
Subject: 12.2456 Re: Doubling in Macbeth
Comment:        Re: SHK 12.2456 Re: Doubling in Macbeth

Michael Edgar said,

> The discussion on this topic has made me think that there are at least
> three possible (and probably overlapping) categories of doubling;
>
> 2) Significant. You cast one actor to play, say, Fortinbras, Laertes and
> Horatio to make some point about each of them being a foil to Hamlet.

That's three of his weapons.

Dana Shilling

PS--I'm surprised that no one has weighed in with "This is not generous,
not gentle, not Noble" (although possible with different punctuation)

PPS--a friend of mine wrote a grant proposal to study the attitudes of
British voters toward the Conservative Party. She inexplicably rejected
my suggestion of calling it Labour's Love's Lost.

[4]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Seija Sinikki <
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 >
Date:           Friday, 26 Oct 2001 12:09:02 -0800
Subject:        RE: Doubling in King Lear

Paul E. Doniger writes,

"When we talk about doubling, do we mean one actor playing two parts or
one character being incorporated into another?"

Michael Edgar continues,

"The discussion on this topic has made me think that there are at least
three possible (and probably overlapping) categories of doubling;

1) Discreet or Functional. Much used I seem to remember in the fifties.
One actor plays for instance, Barnardo and Osric, and costume, make-up
and acting are employed to make the two characters as different as
possible.  Ideally the audience is not even supposed to notice the
device but, in fact, the smugger observers have consulted their programs
and are evaluating the effectiveness of the actor's doubling
performance.

2) Significant. You cast one actor to play, say, Fortinbras, Laertes and
Horatio to make some point about each of them being a foil to Hamlet. I
have done that, with the aid of video elements. I think it ended up
looking a bit silly. There are more successful examples. Jonathan Pryce,
as Hamlet, ventriloquising the ghost must have been a particularly
striking instance.  30 Sportive. Doubling that draws attention to itself
and to the theatrical fun of using the actor as a transformable sign.

I've always assumed, unthinkingly, that doubling in renaissance theatre
would have been of the first type. Is there any evidence to the
contrary?"

SS: Being schooled in the medieval tradition, I think the doubling of
significant characters could suggest another level of interpretation, a
hidden plot, a potential play within a play. Shakespeare could have
composed his plays keeping doubling in mind. He could suggest that two
characters should be seen in a sense as one,  though on different levels
of interpretation: one the actual-plot level that anybody can see, the
other a potential one that we could grasp with our
intuition/imagination/intellect.  The one, then, we would perceive with
our senses, the other apprehend with our higher mental faculties.

I think it was  Seth Lerer ( who, by the way, thinks that Shakespeare in
The Taming of the Shrew  doubled the roles of Katharina and the Page of
the introduction on purpose) who said that Shakespeare's tragedies are
failed comedies.  I think this is so.  I conceive in the doubling of
Cordelia and the Fool a potential comic ending.  IF Cordelia had
followed the example of Kent, instead of hastily marrying France without
her father's blessing,  and accompanied her father through the dark
times disguised as a fool  

 

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