Double-casting is a theater technique (as opposed to a literary one) that creates a meta-narrative, transforming a large-cast play into a present-tense adventure. Actors swapping costumes and changing roles (and sometimes genders) becomes part of the thrilling ride, and theater’s fundamental artifice becomes its strength. Theater’s very artificiality becomes a feature, not a bug. Shakespeare utilized this trick to both amplify subtext and heighten the drama.
Posts By: Austin Tichenor
Austin Tichenor writes about theater’s limitations as a historical record, given its dramatic needs and narrative imperatives.
While William Shakespeare never wrote what we might think of as a science-fiction play, he knew intuitively that the theatre — more than Doc Brown’s DeLorean, Bill & Ted’s phone booth, H.G. Wells’ 19th-century steampunk device, or the Doctor’s blue police box — is the greatest time machine there is. (Name another contraption that can… Continue Reading »
During this global pandemic, when the whole world is quarantined to try to prevent the spread of COVID-19, Hamlet seems like a character perfectly suited to our present moment. He’s also stuck at home, unable to return to school, despondent after suffering great loss, and so distraught by governmental change and the behavior of family… Continue Reading »
All right, enough. We’ve all heard how super-productive William Shakespeare was when the plague shut down his theaters: He wrote his epic poems Venus and Adonis and Lucrece during the epidemic of 1592-1593, and “all of [his] Jacobean plays, from Measure For Measure through Coriolanus” during or not long after later outbreaks. But surely the… Continue Reading »
In 1599, in the 40th year of Queen Elizabeth’s reign, when she had no heir or obvious successor in a time of increasing instability and fears of civil war, William Shakespeare got away with depicting the assassination of a popular and powerful leader – one with no heir or obvious successor in a time of… Continue Reading »
Since we’ve just completed the annual Hollywood marathon called “Awards Season” — several self-congratulatory months filled with the Independent Spirit Awards, the Golden Globe Awards, various guild awards from around the world, the British Film & Television Academy Awards (the Baftas), and capped off by the Academy Awards (the Oscars) — it might be interesting… Continue Reading »
“Write what you know” is the age-old wisdom young writers are always given, and though he never wrote a backstage comedy (or, for that matter, a backstage history, tragedy, or romance), William Shakespeare filled his plays with the tricks of his theatrical trade. I’m not talking about the theater techniques any playwright uses to tell… Continue Reading »
It’s that time of year, when some of us have visions of sugar plums dancing in our heads, many are looking forward to (or dreading) gathering with family and friends, and a certain subset of us wonder, somewhat longingly and not for the first time — what’s the closest thing we have to a Shakespeare… Continue Reading »
Maybe ’twas ever thus, but the current crop of cultural programming in the theatre and on film and television is awash with prequels and sequels to existing stories and characters, providing audiences with comforting continuations of familiar narratives and critics with opportunities to decry the dearth of original ideas. So it seems only right to… Continue Reading »