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17 May 2010 @ 05:28 pm
...and could sing once  
Because in my brain, listening to DVD commentary of Greg Doran's Hamlet is relaxing, I listened to the commentary over a few days, mostly when I was eating dinner. For those of you who followed the whole "Andre Tchaikovsky's skull" saga* when the production was on in Stratford, the skull has also been immortalized (heh) in the film as well.

(*representative article: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/newstopics/howaboutthat/3543481/Royal-Shakespeare-Company-to-stop-using-distracting-real-skull-in-Hamlet.html )
a_t_raina_t_rain on May 17th, 2010 10:59 pm (UTC)
How depressing that authentic skulls are considered "too distracting" for live audiences! (I hadn't realized it was that unusual to use a real one, actually.) I kind of suspect this says something about modern society's inability to grapple with death, but I'm not sure what.
tempestsarekind: hamlet--though you can fret metempestsarekind on May 17th, 2010 11:07 pm (UTC)
It's particularly odd in conjunction with Hamlet, since the whole *point* of that scene is to be a meditation on death! I think it must say something about modern society's inability to grapple with death, too: most of the time, we don't get a lot of practice. And don't get me wrong, I'm pretty okay with that, but...there's something touching about honoring a wish like that.

I don't think I'd ever given much thought to how often the skulls in Hamlet are real skulls, though! I think I just assumed they weren't, because of permits and things.
Neaneadods on May 18th, 2010 01:07 am (UTC)
I'm pretty certain this isn't the only real skull used in modern times. I don't think they're that expensive from medical catalogs. As for permits - well, as they pointed out in the lecture, things are different now, but back in the 50s, one of the dressers would go down to the kosher butcher's every day and bring back 5 gallons of real blood for Macbeth.
tempestsarekind: hamlet/horatio OTPtempestsarekind on May 18th, 2010 03:13 pm (UTC)
Oh, I didn't mean to imply that I thought no one had ever used a real skull in modern times (oops), just that I'd always assumed that these days, it would be easier to get a fake skull than a real one, so more productions would lean that way.

I think there are different rules for human remains, though; blood from a butcher's would probably still raise some health concerns, but I seem to remember that this recent production didn't use Andre Tchaikovsky's skull in some of the earliest performances because they hadn't gotten clearance yet, and that they would have needed a separate set of permits to travel with the skull to London (if they had decided to go ahead, as it were). So I'd think that not everyone would be willing to deal with the hassle of all that. It's definitely not impossible, but there might be some productions that just opt out, particularly if they already have a mocked-up skull on hand.

(But that might be because it's *not* a skull from a medical catalog. Maybe those are prepared in a way that requires less red tape? Maybe they're certified already? I don't know.)
Neaneadods on May 18th, 2010 05:30 pm (UTC)
blood from a butcher's would probably still raise some health concerns

The guy at Stratford (the Canadian one) said that they weren't allowed anymore for just that reason!

I would assume that any human remains from a medical catalog have already been certified and had whatever else you need to be able to travel with/ship it, or they wouldn't be able to sell their own stock!
tempestsarekind: all the world's a stagetempestsarekind on May 18th, 2010 05:43 pm (UTC)
Plus it would probably not be much fun for the vegetarians in the cast, to be doused with animal blood. (Not that everyone else would be looking forward to it, obviously!)

And yes--that's probably true of human remains from a medical catalog. Though that might be even *odder* than acting with a skull from someone who'd wanted it used for that purpose.