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Home :: Archive :: 2010 :: September ::
Actor Doublings
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 21.0379  Friday, 24 September 2010

[1]  From:      John Cox <
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     Date:      September 23, 2010 7:57:59 PM EDT
     Subj:      Re: SHK 21.0374 Actor Doublings 

[2]  From:      William Godshalk <
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     Date:      September 23, 2010 8:25:15 PM EDT
     Subj:      RE: SHK 21.0374  Actor Doublings
 
[3]  From:      William Godshalk <
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     Date:      September 23, 2010 8:25:15 PM EDT
     Subj:      T. J. King and Doubling
 
[4]  From:      David Kathman <
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     Date:      September 23, 2010 11:45:11 PM EDT
     Subj:      Re: SHK 21.0374  Actor Doublings
 
[5]  From:      Martin Mueller <
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     Date:      September 24, 2010 12:05:29 AM EDT
     Subj:      Re: SHK 21.0374  Actor Doublings
 
[6]  From:      Olwen Terris <
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     Date:      September 24, 2010 5:15:00 AM EDT
     Subj:      RE: SHK 21.0374  Actor Doublings
 
[7]  From:      Sarah Enloe <
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     Date:      September 24, 2010 12:52:38 PM EDT
     Subj:      Re: SHK 21.0374 Actor Doublings
 

[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:         John Cox <
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Date:         September 23, 2010 7:57:59 PM EDT
Subject: 21.0374 Actor Doublings
Comment:      Re: SHK 21.0374 Actor Doublings

The place to begin with doubling is T. J. King's book, Casting Shakespeare's Plays 
(Cambridge, 1992).

John Cox
Hope College

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:         William Godshalk <
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Date:         September 23, 2010 8:25:15 PM EDT
Subject: 21.0374  Actor Doublings
Comment:      RE: SHK 21.0374  Actor Doublings

Well, before computers, Alfred Harbage taught us to use a doubling chart, 
remembering, of course, the law of reentry. 

Bill

[3]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:         William Godshalk <
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Date:         September 23, 2010 8:25:15 PM EDT
Subject:      T. J. King and Doubling 

The Doubling Chart is not coming through:

The image above is a doubling chart prepared by T.J. King of the principle roles in 
the Folio version of Hamlet divided into roles for men and boys. This chart is 
actually a fully formed chart which already groups the roles according to their 
conjectured doubling under numbered actors. (You may do it this way or make a chart 
of all the principle roles and all the minor roles, and then indicate in your notes 
what doublings seem best.) King notes: "Nine men can play fourteen principal and one 
minor male roles; three boys play two principle female roles and the Boy Player-
Queen" (88f).

Another chart (not shown here) shows the remaining 25 minor roles. Of these roles 
(extra attendants, soldiers, Players, messengers, etc.), King notes: "Nine men can 
play eleven small speaking parts and twenty-four mutes" (89). In other words, the 
play calls for 24 characters to appear without speaking. (His doubling chart, 
incidentally, shows that 16 of those mute roles can be doubled by 5 actors -- hired 
men -- who would thus never speak a single word during the entire performance!)

You can see that King also indicates on his chart how many lines each character 
speaks in each scene, using zeros for scenes where characters are present but do not 
speak. For the purposes of this exercise, it is not necessary for you to count lines 
(!), but you might want to indicate whether a character appears without speaking: I 
recommend using a simple "X" for speaking appearances and a "0" for mute 
appearances. (It goes without saying that even if a character has no lines in a 
scene but is nevertheless required onstage at that time, the actor cannot double 
another character in the same scene!)

Thus Hamlet has a whopping 43 roles which can be performed with a cast of 18 men (9 
sharers and 9 hired men) and 3 boys. Not bad.

King, T.J. Casting Shakespeare's Plays: London Actors and Their Roles, 1590-1642. 
Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 1992. 

[4]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:         David Kathman <
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Date:         September 23, 2010 11:45:11 PM EDT
Subject: 21.0374  Actor Doublings
Comment:      Re: SHK 21.0374  Actor Doublings

Aaron Azlant wrote:

>I had a somewhat odd request for the group. Does anybody know 
>of any literature on the topic of single Shakespearean actors 
>that might have played multiple roles within the same play?

If you're talking about actors in the original productions of Shakespeare's plays, 
we know very little about that -- some lead roles played by Richard Burbage, a 
couple played by Will Kemp, and a few others. We do have cast lists for a few non-
Shakespearean plays from around that time, though most are not complete. If you're 
talking about theoretical doubling possibilities, see below.

>Alternatively, are there any SHAKSPER participants with 
>enough computer programming experience to assist me in 
>writing software that could possibly figure out which 
>roles in which plays were never on stage at the same 
>time and, therefore, could have been played by the same 
>actor?

Before you go reinventing the wheel, you should look at two books originally 
published in 1992 and reprinted in paperback by Cambridge University Press last 
year: T. J. King's "Casting Shakespeare's Plays: London actors and their roles, 
1590-1642", and David Bradley's "From Text to Performance in the Elizabethan 
Theatre". Both gather what little information we have about specific cast lists from 
the early modern English theatre, including what we can tell about doubling 
practices. King has casting tables for each of Shakespeare's plays, giving the 
number of lines spoken by each character in each act, and showing roles that could 
be doubled. Bradley has a table showing the minimum, maximum, and most probable 
number of performers, including boys, needed for every extant English public-theatre 
play before 1625.

Dave Kathman

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[5]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:         Martin Mueller <
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Date:         September 24, 2010 12:05:29 AM EDT
Subject: 21.0374  Actor Doublings
Comment:      Re: SHK 21.0374  Actor Doublings

I have a database that lets you readily construct the personnel of each scene. Thus 
in the example below you learn that in the final scene of 1Henry IV there are for 
speakers and each speaks a certain number of words. The speaker ids are unique 
across the corpus. You can then for each play establish the number of possible 
links, e.g. HenryIV-HenryV and in a second step determine which links actually 
occur, e.g. HenryIV-HenryV-5.5. It wouldn't be very hard to write such a script. It 
would probably execute in ten seconds or less.

                           Query4
idno     act_scene     speaker_id     CountOfspeaker_id
1h4        5.5           PercyTh             24
1h4        5.5           Bedford             14
1h4        5.5           HenryIV             180
1h4        5.5           HenryV              113

[6]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:         Olwen Terris <
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Date:         September 24, 2010 5:15:00 AM EDT
Subject: 21.0374  Actor Doublings
Comment:      RE: SHK 21.0374  Actor Doublings

I can offer no advice on writing about the doubling of roles in Shakespearean 
performance but if one accessed the International Database of Shakespeare on Film, 
Television and Radio (www.bufvc.ac.uk/shakespeare), went into the 'advanced 
search' option and keyed 'doubling of roles' in the keyword box you would retrieve 
productions in which actors have doubled roles - by this I mean doubling of roles 
such as the same actress playing Hermione and Perdita, or the Ghost and 
Claudius, not just the same actor playing a variety of minor roles, particularly 
common in the histories.

Olwen Terris
Project Researcher 
British Universities Film & Video Council
77 Wells Street 
London 
W1T 3QJ

[7]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:         Sarah Enloe <
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Date:         September 24, 2010 12:52:38 PM EDT
Subject: 21.0374 Actor Doublings
Comment:      Re: SHK 21.0374 Actor Doublings

Dear Aaron,

Because ASC actors perform our shows in rep and with 12-16 actors, we have many 
doubling charts already created that may help you. The Queen's Men's Project in 
Canada also has a remarkable website with a doubling chart tool. Let me know if you 
would like any of the information we have as you work on your project. 


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