All aboard. People I very much appreciate:

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Un Chien de Shakespeare (And delusional dogs? Quite the opposite!)





My friend, Willie, having collected appellative credits from the Beat, Hippie and Raver eras, has arrived at the Coplandian appellation springboard of Theatrical Agent to launch a new actor's career. I refer, of course, to the stage debut of his canine companion, Jasper. Jasper, he tells me, has no last name, is a single-moniker artist like Madonna or Cher or Prince. But this is not an affected stage-monocur. I believe Jasper, like all dogs, does have a last name composed of a pause that contains a universe inaudible to humans. Also, Jasper doesn't sing. He acts. Here are actor and agent:



According to Will, "Jasper is true roué, having grown up on the mean streets of San Francisco, specifically the Castro district. After his rescue from a life of dissolution, he resettled in the more salubrious climes of Sonoma, where he has been trained as a service and therapy dog, both good steps to becoming a true thespian." Here he is in his current role as "Crab", dog to the servant of Proteus, Sancho:



This is not the first time Shakespeare experimented with dog-actors. The role of Hamlet was originally written for a dog. Canonical scholars teach us the famous "To be or not to be..." soliloquy was originally a set of simple stage directions: "Hamlet howleth, growleth and cheweth the scenery!" Admittedly, only a minor difference in some productions but when the death of Polonius by a playful nip on the ankle was considered unconvincing, major rewrites began. When the death of Hamlet by Laertes --followed by the death of Laertes by Hamlet-- was reviewed as,"a silly fellowe poking a poor dogge til everyone dyeth", the duel scene was rebuilt from scratch.



The play, "Julius Caesar", was the Bard's first production intended for an all-dog cast, revised only slightly by the author as evidenced by the enduring line, "Cry havoc!, and let slip the humans of war." But this masterpiece was also modified. By whom? Some say it was by collaboration of the brothers James, who didn't consider "Caesar" on the same plane as the other plays. William James said, "The greatest use of life is to spend it for something that will outlast it." I haven't checked thoroughly here --I am oft-criticized for my quotes-- but if William James didn't say that, it's the ONLY damn thing he didn't say.



At some point, the third James brother, Jesse, pulled a gun on William and Henry and took their lunch money. He fled to America, robbed banks and founded the town of Sonoma. His family forgave him because psychiatrists found he not only suffered a split-personality but had a fourth brother named Frank who really did share Jesse's clothes while Jesse was in them. This led to the Bear Flag Rebellion, which I shall cover in another essay.




********************************************************
********************************************************

Addendum, snippet from Aug.17th edition of Argus-Courier:"One of the splendid aspects of Shakespeare's plays is their infinite adaptability. Thus changing the location of the play from Italy's Verona and Milan to Napa and Petaluma; switching the time frame to 1846, just prior to the Bear Flag rebellion, and using Vallejo and Sacramento's Captain John Sutter as characters in the play-well, it all works."

11 comments:

  1. Doggone it, I predict great things for Jasper. In an actor's world, singing isn't everything.

    Few people know that the opera "Pagliacci" was also originally written for a dog. Composer Leoncavallo's pooch Benito was supposed to debut in the role of Canio. The dog was initially a tenor, but he caught a bad cold in Sicily three days before the premiere - - which rendered him a bad baritone. He was replaced at the last minute by Enrico Caruso - - and, well, the rest is history.....

    ReplyDelete
  2. Dogs actors performing Shakespeare, I can handle, but I sure wish they'd stop barking Christmas carols! Another fun post.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Jasper thanks all with a friendly "Woof!"

    ReplyDelete
  4. Comments much appreciated. I've decided to at least restore Shakespeare's direction:"Hamlet diggeth up Yorick's skull with his forepaws and runneth off to gnaw it."

    ReplyDelete
  5. Gives an entirely new meaning to "Out, out, damned Spot!"

    ReplyDelete
  6. I laughed all the way through that. Lovely.

    Liza "Bean" Bitey, of the Minneapolis Biteys, believes she and Jasper once appeared opposite each other in "Cat (and Dog) on a Hot Tin Roof". When pressed, she retreated to the window, where she chattered at unsuspecting sparrows.

    Pearl

    ReplyDelete
  7. Pearl: That was "Cat (and Dog) on a Hot Tin Woof"!

    ReplyDelete
  8. Jasper has charisma. Shakepeare's dog plays are due a revival. It all comes together for Jasper, methinks...

    ReplyDelete

I value your comments. Say hello. Reach out a bit. I do.