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Home :: Archive :: 2010 :: March ::
Double Hamlets

The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 21.0131  Friday, 26 March 2010

[1]  From:      Matteo Pangallo < This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it >
     Date:      March 18, 2010 4:03:41 PM EDT
     Subj:      Re: Double Hamlets 

[2]  From:      Michael Yawney < This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it >
     Date:      March 18, 2010 4:12:02 PM EDT
     Subj:      RE: SHK 21.0123  Double Hamlets

[3]  From:      Abigail Quart < This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it >
     Date:      March 18, 2010 4:19:46 PM EDT
     Subj:      RE: SHK 21.0123  Double Hamlets 

[4]  From:      Kevin J Donovan < This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it >
     Date:      March 18, 2010 4:27:12 PM EDT
     Subj:      Re: SHK 21.0123  Double Hamlets 

[5]  From:      Conrad Cook < This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it >
     Date:      March 19, 2010 1:49:44 AM EDT
     Subj:      Re: SHAKSPER Digest - 16 Mar 2010 to 18 Mar 2010 (#2010-23)

[6]  From:      Hardy M. Cook < This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it >
     Date:      Friday, March 26, 2010   
     Subj:      Re: SHK 21.0123  Double Hamlets 

[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:         Matteo Pangallo < This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it >
Date:         March 18, 2010 4:03:41 PM EDT
Subject:      Re: Double Hamlets

Hannibal Hamlin < This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it > wrote:

>An Irish friend just informed me of a production of Hamlet he's
>seen recently that featured two actors in the lead role -- i.e.,
>dividing the role between them in a single production. I'm not
>sure of the details, i.e., how it was divided up, but has anyone
>heard of this being done before?

I've never heard of this with Hamlet, but I have been involved with productions that divided up other characters.

I performed in a production of Julius Caesar and split the role of Brutus with my identical twin brother: his Brutus was the "rational" side of the character (the one, for example, who delivers the funeral oration and who ultimately commits suicide) and mine was the "emotional" (the one who actually stabs Caesar) -- none of the characters (including the two of us) could see the other Brutus. It also allowed us to make the "It must be by his death" soliloquy into a kind of dialogue.

The other split-character I've been involved with was Ariel in a production of Tempest that I directed several years ago; one Ariel attempted to win Prospero's favor (and thus freedom) by doing everything possible to please him, the other did everything possible to spite him. The two Ariels made it possible to stage some amusing "magic" business (for example, in the log scene or with the harpy), particularly because none of the other characters (including Prospero) "knew" or could "see" that there were two of them.

I have no objections to this kind of theatrical device if there is a clear reason for the choice and if the audience can grasp those reasons. If the device does not inform the production somehow, however, then it would strike me merely as a gimmick for the sake of novelty and spectacle. It risks becoming more a distraction than a contribution to the performance if done poorly.

Matteo A. Pangallo
This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
www.umass.edu/renaissance

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:         Michael Yawney < This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it >
Date:         March 18, 2010 4:12:02 PM EDT
Subject: 21.0123  Double Hamlets
Comment:      RE: SHK 21.0123  Double Hamlets

Dividing Hamlet up has been done before.

Off the top of my head, I recall Travis Preston had four Hamlets in his production at NYU late 1980s.

Hope this helps,
Michael Yawney

[3]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:         Abigail Quart < This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it >
Date:         March 18, 2010 4:19:46 PM EDT
Subject: 21.0123  Double Hamlets
Comment:      RE: SHK 21.0123  Double Hamlets

I saw a Columbia University School of the Arts production that divided up the Hamlets and practically every other major character, too.

[4]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:         Kevin J Donovan < This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it >
Date:         March 18, 2010 4:27:12 PM EDT
Subject: 21.0123  Double Hamlets
Comment:      Re: SHK 21.0123  Double Hamlets

The most recent issue of The Shakespeare Newsletter contains a review by Bernice W. Kliman of a production this past summer by The Hudson Warehouse featuring three actors playing Hamlet "interactively." She also refers in passing to a 1976 production "with twin actors playing Hamlet as angel and devil respectively."

Kevin J. Donovan
Professor and Graduate Program Director
Department of English
Middle Tennessee State University

[5]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:         Conrad Cook < This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it >
Date:         March 19, 2010 1:49:44 AM EDT
Subject:      Re: SHAKSPER Digest - 16 Mar 2010 to 18 Mar 2010 (#2010-23)

Hannibal Hamlin < This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it > wrote:

>An Irish friend just informed me of a production of Hamlet he's
>seen recently that featured two actors in the lead role -- i.e.,
>dividing the role between them in a single production. I'm not
>sure of the details, i.e., how it was divided up, but has anyone
>heard of this being done before?

Yes, in prison.

Prisoners in the US are sometimes given Shakespearean plays, and often _Hamlet_, to perform as a kind of performance art therapy. The lead role is split among four prisoner actors, who are all on the stage at once and rotate about every sentence, as I recall.

They had a bit of it on the radio. The reporter said the production "works." The part I heard, well, sounded like it was being recited by prisoners in rotation. Hard to judge from a sound bite; I'm sure such a production could work.

Conrad.

PS - They also only did act 5.

[6]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:          Hardy M. Cook < This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it >
Date:          Friday, March 26, 2010   
Subject: 21.0123  Double Hamlets
Comment:       Re: SHK 21.0123  Double Hamlets

Not exactly Hamlet but Todd Haynes's 2007 film _I'm Not There_ has six characters (played by Christian Bale, Cate Blanchett, Marcus Carl Franklin, Richard Gere, Heath Ledger, and Ben Whishaw) embodying different aspects of Bob Dylan's life, work, and public persona. The film opens with the caption: "Inspired by the music and the many lives of Bob Dylan." Except for the caption and credits, Dylan's name does not appear in the film itself.

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