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Home :: Archive :: 2003 :: December ::
Launce and Crab
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 14.2454  Wednesday, 31 December 2003

[1]     From:   Alan Somerset <
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        Date:   Tuesday, 30 Dec 2003 09:09:56 -0500
        Subj:   Re: SHK 14.2447 Launce and Crab

[2]     From:   Chris Gordon <
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        Date:   Tuesday, 30 Dec 2003 09:04:40 CST
        Subj:   Re: SHK 14.2447 Launce and Crab

[3]     From:   Ben Spiller <
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        Date:   Tuesday, 30 Dec 2003 15:29:29 -0000
        Subj:   Re: SHK 14.2447 Launce and Crab

[4]     From:   Todd Pettigrew <
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        Date:   Tuesday, 30 Dec 2003 12:03:14 -0400
        Subj:   Re: SHK 14.2447 Launce and Crab

[5]     From:   David Evett <
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        Date:   Tuesday, 30 Dec 2003 11:23:56 -0500
        Subj:   Re: SHK 14.2447 Launce and Crab

[6]     From:   Todd Gutmann <
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        Date:   Tuesday, 30 Dec 2003 08:31:43 -0800
        Subj:   RE: SHK 14.2447 Launce and Crab

[7]     From:   Billy Houck <
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        Date:   Tuesday, 30 Dec 2003 11:32:45 EST
        Subj:   Re: SHK 14.2447 Launce and Crab

[8]     From:   Sidney Berger <
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        Date:   Tuesday, 30 Dec 2003 11:14:11 -0600
        Subj:   Re: SHK 14.2447 Launce and Crab

[9]     From:   M. Yawney <
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        Date:   Tuesday, 30 Dec 2003 10:20:51 -0800 (PST)
        Subj:   Re: SHK 14.2447 Launce and Crab

[10]     From:  Brian Willis <
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        Date:   Tuesday, 30 Dec 2003 10:28:43 -0800 (PST)
        Subj:   Re: SHK 14.2447 Launce and Crab

[11]     From:  David Lindley <
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        Date:   Wednesday, 31 Dec 2003 10:46:17 -0000
        Subj:   RE: SHK 14.2447 Launce and Crab


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Alan Somerset <
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Date:           Tuesday, 30 Dec 2003 09:09:56 -0500
Subject: 14.2447 Launce and Crab
Comment:        Re: SHK 14.2447 Launce and Crab

In a touring production, *Two Programmes of Shakespearean Comedy*
(1962), Eric Christmas presented Launcelot Gobbo's soliloquy about
Crab's behaviour, and the scene made a virtue out of necessity (how do
you tour with a dog??).  Launcelot referred repeatedly to Crab,
gesturing in the dog's direction over his shoulder, but never actually
looked at 'him', which made a wonderfully effective comic point -- there
was no dog, just a leash, with a collar attached to it.

Alan Somerset
University of Western Ontario

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Chris Gordon <
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Date:           Tuesday, 30 Dec 2003 09:04:40 CST
Subject: 14.2447 Launce and Crab
Comment:        Re: SHK 14.2447 Launce and Crab

I was involved as dramaturg with a production of Two Gents; we used a
stuffed dog for Crab, and it worked just fine. I would think that you
would need a well trained dog if you choose to use a live one, but it
could be very engaging. Ask your students if anyone has a particularly
clever dog.

Chris Gordon

[3]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Ben Spiller <
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Date:           Tuesday, 30 Dec 2003 15:29:29 -0000
Subject: 14.2447 Launce and Crab
Comment:        Re: SHK 14.2447 Launce and Crab

Dear Susan,

I saw a production of _Two Gents_ in Wadham College Garden, Oxford, this
Summer.  The Oxford Shakespeare Company found an ingenious solution to
the staging challenge posed by Crab: the actor who played Julia also
played the dog.  It was set in the 1920s (or thereabouts), and Julie
wore a long black evening dress.  To become Crab, she simply added long
black silk gloves (pads visible on the fingers) and a black clown nose.

I'm not suggesting that you copy the idea, but I suppose there is a case
for doubling Crab with another character in the play.  As for the
doubling with Julia, the decision made possible a connection between the
two characters: the almost animalistic passion of Julia was there in the
dog (if the actor who played Julia/Crab in the production ever reads
this, then please accept my apologies if this all comes across as rather
rude!)  The actor did not run around on all fours pretending to be a
dog, but played Crab as a slightly modified version of Julia.

Good luck with the production, if you do decide to go for the _Two
Gents_ (or even if you don't!)

With best wishes and Happy New Year,
Ben.

[4]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Todd Pettigrew <
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Date:           Tuesday, 30 Dec 2003 12:03:14 -0400
Subject: 14.2447 Launce and Crab
Comment:        Re: SHK 14.2447 Launce and Crab

I was once in a production of Cymbeline that had a live dog in it. The
rather large puppy had been borrowed from the local humane society and
was kept from misbehaving onstage by means of a leash and small pieces
of sausage fed to him discreetly.  Since the dog had no name, I
suggested off-handedly that we call him "Prop" and the name stuck. One
member of the cast liked the dog so much that he adopted him, and the
happy creature was spared a trip back to the doggy joint.

Several years later I was called on to walk a dog across stage in a
production of Guys and Dolls and the dog I was given seemed familiar.
His name, I was told was "Prop," and thus I was reunited with my old
co-star.

Todd Pettigrew

[5]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           David Evett <
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Date:           Tuesday, 30 Dec 2003 11:23:56 -0500
Subject: 14.2447 Launce and Crab
Comment:        Re: SHK 14.2447 Launce and Crab

The Crab I recall was from the prop department--a mop-sized mutt on the
end of a spring-steel leash, which allowed his Launce to produce very
life-like pounces, lie-downs, sit-ups, and other antics.  I think this
is an old piece of vaudeville schtick; in any case, in the hands of a
gifted clown (alas, I can't remember who) it was hilarious.

Crabbily,
Dave Evett

[6]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Todd Gutmann <
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Date:           Tuesday, 30 Dec 2003 08:31:43 -0800
Subject: 14.2447 Launce and Crab
Comment:        RE: SHK 14.2447 Launce and Crab

Launce's speech, it's been said, is so written that whatever the dog
does, from yipping madly to sitting dull and unmoving, it only makes the
speech funnier. That comment makes sense to me.

I've seen Two Gents only twice, once with a memorably funny (small,
impassive) live dog, once with an unmemorable dog (I'd remember if
something else had been used).

The practical offstage problems of working with a live dog you're
familiar with from your Oz experience.

Todd Gutmann

[7]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Billy Houck <
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Date:           Tuesday, 30 Dec 2003 11:32:45 EST
Subject: 14.2447 Launce and Crab
Comment:        Re: SHK 14.2447 Launce and Crab

Use a live dog. Audiences like it. Find a nice, mature, calm,
housebroken dog that can come to rehearsals as well as performances.
Assign an assistant stage manager to be a dog sitter so you do not have
a loose dog in the dark backstage.  Do not wait until opening night to
have the dog experience the noise and lights.

Make sure the dog gets along with the actor playing Launce. Even more
importantly, make sure the actor playing launce is good with the dog.
Crab is not on stage that often, unless you want to add him in.

More important, in my estimation, is what to do with the rape scene.

Billy Houck
Arroyo Grande High School

[8]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Sidney Berger <
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Date:           Tuesday, 30 Dec 2003 11:14:11 -0600
Subject: 14.2447 Launce and Crab
Comment:        Re: SHK 14.2447 Launce and Crab

Dear Susan;

Having produced the show twice and seen various other productions, I
urge you to use a live dog. They may be recalcitrant on stage, which is
the common problem. However, The London Globe production played off of
that with delight for the audience. Having also seen it with a fake dog,
I assure you that the scene loses all its humor and charm.

The scene plays best, in my view, with a mutt or hound.

Sidney Berger
Houston Shakespeare Festival

[9]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           M. Yawney <
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Date:           Tuesday, 30 Dec 2003 10:20:51 -0800 (PST)
Subject: 14.2447 Launce and Crab
Comment:        Re: SHK 14.2447 Launce and Crab

The Globe production came to NYC where I saw it at the New Victory. The
Crab was probably the best I ever saw because he seemed to be completely
untrained,

Launce led him in on a rope leash and tied him to a stage pillar. The
dog just acted like a dog (rather than a trained animal) and it was up
to Launce to adjust his staging and delivery to suit what the dog was
doing. (Some pacing, some lying down.)

The dog always looked out at the audience when we laughed, which was
such a natural and real response that it was impossible for us not to
respond.

It was a real revelation to see an animal doing what it normally does.
The doggy action so suited the text that I cannot help but think that it
was designed with such a dog-performance in mind.

[10]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Brian Willis <
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Date:           Tuesday, 30 Dec 2003 10:28:43 -0800 (PST)
Subject: 14.2447 Launce and Crab
Comment:        Re: SHK 14.2447 Launce and Crab

I've seen it with a live dog (Henry, the Dirty Duck pub dog for those
who know of him) and also with a stuffed animal. Both were quite funny.
I think the humor of the situation derives mostly from the novelty of a
dog being a character in the scene (and the speeches themselves), and
the inability of the dog to respond to Launce's portion of the dialogue.
Hence, there is no witty interplay between them as there is with Launce
and Speed for instance. Also, depending on what type of live dog, they
can make the humor for themselves. If they sniff about, notice the
audience or act bemused, they steal the scene. No wonder Shakespeare
abandoned dogs after (arguably, I admit) his first play. Best of luck
with the production.

Brian Willis

[11]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           David Lindley <
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Date:           Wednesday, 31 Dec 2003 10:46:17 -0000
Subject: 14.2447 Launce and Crab
Comment:        RE: SHK 14.2447 Launce and Crab

 >I am thinking about directing Two Gents next fall for my high school
 >advanced acting class, and I was wondering about
 >your experiences with Crab, the dog.

 >Have you seen (or been involved in) productions with a live dog?  what
 >type/size?  problems or pluses?

The RSC production in the Swan some ten years ago(?) had a beautifully
trained real dog - which worked wonderfully well, its indifference to
Launce's soliloquy heightening the comedy.  Whether it was accident or
design the dog yawned at the end - and brought the house down.

But it would have to be an exceptionally well-trained dog!

David Lindley

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