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Home :: Archive :: 2010 :: October ::
Actor Doubling
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 21.0399  Monday, 11 October 2010

[1]  From:      Paul Barry <
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     Date:      October 4, 2010 2:36:37 PM EDT
     Subj:      Re: SHK 21.0391  Actor Doubling 

[2]  From:      William Blanton <
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     Date:      October 4, 2010 3:46:55 PM EDT
     Subj:      Re: SHK 21.0391  Actor Doubling
 
[3]  From:      Alan Dessen <
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     Date:      October 4, 2010 4:07:00 PM EDT
     Subj:      Re: SHK 21.0391  Actor Doubling
 
[4]  From:      John Briggs <
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     Date:      October 4, 2010 9:21:15 PM EDT
     Subj:      Re: SHK 21.0391  Actor Doubling
 
[5]  From:      Joseph Egert <
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     Date:      October 6, 2010 6:32:27 PM EDT
     Subj:      Re: SHK 21.0391  Actor Doubling
 

[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:         Paul Barry <
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Date:         October 4, 2010 2:36:37 PM EDT
Subject: 21.0391  Actor Doubling
Comment:      Re: SHK 21.0391  Actor Doubling

What possible advantage would there be in doubling Shylock and Morocco, unless you 
were sending out a minimalist company as ACTER did several years ago?  

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:         William Blanton <
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Date:         October 4, 2010 3:46:55 PM EDT
Subject: 21.0391  Actor Doubling
Comment:      Re: SHK 21.0391  Actor Doubling

John Drakakis stated:

>There is a much stronger case (though it is still speculative) for the 
>doubling of Shylock and Morocco, since this would give a literal gloss 
>to the dialogue between Salanio, Salarino and Shylock at 3.1. where the 
>Jew's 'flesh' is described as 'jet' compared to Jessica's 'ivory'. This 
>doubling is just possible since Shylock has some 7 lines in which to 
>change costume between 1.3. and 2.1. Gabriel Egan, in an earlier posting 
>suggested that it was possible to remove black-face makeup very quickly, 
>although if my speculation is correct, then that may not have been necessary.<

Problem is, Shakespeare's stage direction for the beginning of Act 2 describes 
Morochus as a tawnie Moore. According to David and Ben Crystal, in Shakespeare's 
Words, tawny means (1) brown-skinned; (2) yellowish brown.

Why then did Shakespeare use the word Jet (capitalization his, at least in the First 
Folio) near the beginning of Act 3?

There is a great deal of sexual banter in this scene (indeed, throughout the play). 
I respectfully submit that Shakespeare was using the word in its sexual sense: an 
erect penis; the sexual spasm (Frankie Rubinstein, A Dictionary of Shakespeare's 
Sexual Puns and their Significance, Second Edition [1989]).

Bill

[3]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:         Alan Dessen <
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Date:         October 4, 2010 4:07:00 PM EDT
Subject: 21.0391  Actor Doubling
Comment:      Re: SHK 21.0391  Actor Doubling

Anyone speculating about the removal of black-face make-up during the course of a 
performance should consult Andrea Stevens, "'Assisted by a Barber:' The Court 
Apothecary, Special Effects, and Ben Jonson's The Gypsies Metamorphosed." Theatre 
Notebook 61.1 (2007): 2-11. Examples of figures who disguise themselves as Moors or 
gypsies and then shed the disguise can be found after the early 1620s, but I know of 
no such instances before then.

Alan Dessen

[4]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:         John Briggs <
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Date:         October 4, 2010 9:21:15 PM EDT
Subject: 21.0391  Actor Doubling
Comment:      Re: SHK 21.0391  Actor Doubling

Has anyone mentioned that there was almost certainly no doubling of major roles in 
Shakespeare's day? There are doubling charts in the latest Arden3 editions, and one 
can go quietly mad studying them! Take "Twelfth Night," for example. All the major 
characters -- except Maria, and I can't see her doubling anyone -- are onstage at 
the same time in the last act. The only one missing with more than a handful of 
lines is the Captain, who could have doubled as the Priest. Valentine is AWOL, but 
he had fewer lines than the First Officer who he could double. But that's about it.

John Briggs

[5]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:         Joseph Egert <
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Date:         October 6, 2010 6:32:27 PM EDT
Subject: 21.0391  Actor Doubling
Comment:      Re: SHK 21.0391  Actor Doubling

John Drakakis writes:

>"I find Bill Blanton's claim that Shakespeare played the role of Shylock 
>one that has little evidence to support it.
>
>"There is a much stronger case (though it is still speculative) for the doubling of 
>Shylock and Morocco, since this would give a literal gloss to the dialogue between 
>Salanio, Salarino and Shylock at 3.1. where the Jew's 'flesh' is described as 'jet' 
>compared to Jessica's 'ivory'. This doubling is just possible since Shylock has 
some 
>7 lines in which to change costume between 1.3. and 2.1. Gabriel Egan, in an 
earlier 
>posting suggested that it was possible to remove black-face makeup very quickly, 
>although if my speculation is correct, then that may not have been necessary. I 
>provide a full casting list for the play in my forthcoming Arden 3 edition."

Fascinating!

John, do you agree with your predecessor Brown that the 'red wine' in III.1 applies 
to Jessica and the 'rhenish' to Shylock?

I've often pondered the thematic implications of a dark-complected Shylock, as 
opposed to his fair Jessica. Had Shylock been cuckolded? Was lusty Launcelet her 
true sire? Or was Leah imagining/picturing a white sire (or totally 'pill'd wand'), 
during her 'deed of kind' with Shylock--a form of prenatal impression or influence? 
The discussion in III.5 between IESsica and Launcelet on her possible illegitimacy 
is also reminiscent of the bastard suspicions surrounding IESus' own birth. Are we 
meant to think of IESsica as a white unstreak'd Lamb of God--the 'work of 
generation' having ended in a spotless Virgin birth? How ironic that Lorenzo's 
salvation may have come through his wife, and not vice versa. Has she, per Paul, 
made him a true Christian?

Curious,
Joe Egert


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