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Home :: Archive :: 2004 :: November ::
Greenblatt
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 15.1968  Wednesday, 17 November 2004

[1]     From:   Larry Weiss <
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        Date:   Tuesday, 16 Nov 2004 15:52:23 -0500
        Subj:   Re: SHK 15.1956 Greenblatt

[2]     From:   David Kathman <
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        Date:   Tuesday, 16 Nov 2004 21:10:24 -0600
        Subj:   Re: SHK 15.1956 Greenblatt


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Larry Weiss <
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Date:           Tuesday, 16 Nov 2004 15:52:23 -0500
Subject: 15.1956 Greenblatt
Comment:        Re: SHK 15.1956 Greenblatt

 >"[I]t is likely that the actor who played Lady Montague must have
 >doubled in a character on stage at the end of the play (Shakespeare is
 >forced to explain her absence by having her die of grief); but was it
 >Paris? Friar Laurence?"
 >
 >On the one hand, this presumes that the role was played by a grown man
 >rather than a youth.

If (as I surmise) the doubled role was Paris, an adolescent would do
just fine.

 >On the other hand, it suggests that WS wrote the play with the idea in
 >mind of some actor doubling Lady M with a part that had to be on-stage
 >in the last scene. This seems unlikely to me.

Of course WS wrote with his materials in mind.  But it is just as likely
that when the time came to cast the parts the company found that Lady M
and, say, Paris could not be onstage at the same time, so WS added the
line about Lady M dying of grief.

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           David Kathman <
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 >
Date:           Tuesday, 16 Nov 2004 21:10:24 -0600
Subject: 15.1956 Greenblatt
Comment:        Re: SHK 15.1956 Greenblatt

D Bloom wrote:

 >Larry Weiss writes
 >
 >"[I]t is likely that the actor who played Lady Montague must have
 >doubled in a character on stage at the end of the play (Shakespeare is
 >forced to explain her absence by having her die of grief); but was it
 >Paris? Friar Laurence?"
 >
 >On the one hand, this presumes that the role was played by a grown man
 >rather than a youth. It's possible, of course, but is there evidence to
 >suggest either that this sort of thing commonly happened, or that it
 >happened in this instance?

There is no evidence for grown men (i.e. sharers) playing any
substantial female role on the pre-Restoration stage.  Such roles were
invariably played by teenage apprentices, who ranged in age from about
13 to 21.  A boy at the higher end of this range might conceivably have
doubled as Paris, but Friar Lawrence would not have been possible.  In
the few cases we know of where a boy doubled a female role and a male
role, the male role was that of a page or a similarly young (teenage) male.

I know I've written about this numerous times on this list over the past
decade, but I have finally gathered all the evidence, including much
newly discovered documentary evidence, in an article which will appear
in Shakespeare Survey next year.

Dave Kathman

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