The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 14.2471 Monday, 5 January 2004
Date: Sunday, 4 Jan 2004 20:07:40 -0000
Subject: Launce and Crab
I've seen one production of Two Gentleman, and directed/acted my own as
well. Both used a live dog.
In the professional production I saw (indoors, normal stage, 1920s
setting IIRC), they used an Irish Wolfhound. Like most Wolfhounds I
know, he was very placid and lugubrious in demeanour, and seemed to know
exactly what was expected of him. He didn't 'act' much himself, but was
a very good foil and contrast to a very animated Launce, who even fed
him on stage.
He was very useful in promotional terms, as all the papers wanted to
carry something about him. He was, IIRC, completely untrained, and had
been borrowed from a friend of the director's because the latter had
always liked his expression.
In my production (outdoors, minimal staging, C16th costume, in which I
played Launce, I used my own dog as Crab - a somewhat elderly mongrel.
You can see some pictures here -
http://www.hants.gov.uk/villagers/htm/photos01.htm - if you like! We
visited a number of venues, most of which had picnickers at the front,
which gave lots of opportunity for comedy as Crab/Jacko decided that
food was more interesting than acting. Again, he had no training, but
he filled the role admirably; he even wagged his tail at the appropriate
moment in II.5 (the trick is, have the dog on a loose lead, so he
doesn't feel it, and give it a discreet tug to attract his attention at
the right moment - wagging the tail is an automatic response for a dog
when he looks to you).
All I can say is - choose a dog with a reasonably calm temperament, who
likes being among people; get him used to the actors, particularly
Launce, as early as possible; and wait for the audience to respond!
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