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Dogg's Hamlet And Cahoot's Mcbeth

Words are hard to find
They’re only checks I’ve left unsigned from the banks of chaos in my mind
And their eloquence escapes me.
De Do Do Do Do De Da Da Da is all I want to say to you
De Do Do Do Do De Da Da Da
Their innocence will pull me through
De Do Do Do Do De Da Da Da is all I want to say to you
Their meaningless is all that’s true
Poets, priests and politicians have words to thank for their positions
Words that scream for your submission and no one’s jamming their transmissions

These lyrics from the song "De Do Do Do Do De Da Da Da" by the Police have a special relevance to our presentation. They refer to the inability of words to adequately express anything.

Tom Stoppard is a brilliant modern writer who has written many shows and won more Tony awards than any other author. His plays include The real Inspector Hound, Travesties, Jumpers, On the Razzle, The Real Thing, and Rosencrantz and Guidernstern Are Dead. Stoppard also co-authored the screenplay for the film Brazil with Terry Gilliam and wrote the screenplay for the film version of Rosencratz and Guidernstern Are Dead. The shows you are about to see are part of a tradition loosely called "Theatre of the Absurd." Theatre of the Absurd grew out of the disillusionment created by ideas generated by thinkers such as Einstein, Marx, Darwin, and Freud. In the late nineteenth century (Victorian era) the general philosophical and religious view was that humans were the "captain of their fate" and that a higher, benign power watched over the affairs of humans, and that the rational mind would eventually solve all the mysteries of the universe.

Freud told us that we are controlled by dark forces that we are not aware of and that the basis for all our actions can be traced back to repressed sex and aggression. Darwin reduced human status to that of a clothed animal. His theories termed "cultural Darwinism" when applied to societies &emdash; meaning that the societies with the biggest guns and most powerful armies survive.

Marx's Communist Manifesto attacked the foundations of the western economic-industrial complex. According to Marx, capitalism was not a permanent phenomena, but merely part of the evolutionary process of communism. Einstein's Theory of Relativity was much more than a scientific treatise. The philosophical upshot of Einstein's theory was that EVERYTHING was relative, including truth, values, beauty and the existence or the non-existence of a god. These ideas brought around a revolution in art. New forms of art and literature emerged &emdash; surrealism, dadaism, expressionism, futurism, and cubism. The lyrics by the Police referred to earlier ("De Do Do Do Do De Da Da Da") speak directly about the art movement dadaism. As the story goes, Tristan Tzara, founder of the movement, arbitrarily chose the title for the movement from a French dictionary by closing his eyes and pointing to the first word his fingers rested on. That word was "dada," which is French for "rocking horse." Tzara's point was that"dada" was just as good as a word for an art movement as "realism," "romanticism," or"classicism." In theatre, the above ideas have manifested themselves in what is known as Theatre of the Absurd. Theatre of the Absurd, as practiced by such writers as Beckett, Ionesco, and in some cases, Pinter offered plays in which " nothing happened." Gone were the complicated plots, rising actions and denouements of the "well made play." In Waiting for Godot, a classic example of Theatre of the Absurd, two tramps spend the entire play "waiting for Godot," a character who never arrives. They do not know who Godot is or why they are waiting for him. The playwright compares the plight of the tramps to the state of humanity. Life is seen as absurd (meaningless and without purpose) and as a state in which much activity is expended for little return. Thus we spend our lives rushing around in a whirl to "accomplish something" or to "be somebody." The absurd playwright asks in the scheme of things, "what does it all mean?" and answers "nothing."

However the Absurdist viewpoint is far from cynical. There is an element of sympathy for humankind as a Chaplinesque tramp--constantly being kicked down, only to rise and begin again. our shows today, while not "pure" Theatre of the Absurd have many absurdist elements in them.

Stoppard's plays are ultimately about language. Dogg's Hamlet examines the arbitrariness of language--- the fact that if we agree a particular symbol (word) means something- it does not matter what the symbol is as long as the sender and receiver agree upon the meanings. Cahoot's Macbeth is about the "criminality of language &emdash; how a certain set of symbols (in this case the language of Shakespeare) are obscene because of an arbitrary decision by a government.

What's going on? Is there a plot?!

Actually there is a very discernible plot line to both shows. In Dogg's Hamlet, we seem to be at a school somewhere in "DOGGLAND(?!) Where characters such as Able, Baker, and Charlie speak a language known as "Dogg." They are getting ready to present a version(15 minutes long!) Of Shakespeare's Hamlet in a "foreign language" called English for a school assembly. Enter, Easy a truck driver hired to deliver pieces of scenery for the play and erect them. Confusion ensues between Easy and the speakers of Dogg as the mis-communicated infinitum. Finally, the fifteen minute Dogg's Hamlet is presented.

Cahoot's Macbeth takes place in a totalitarian regime where actors are forced to present a version of Macbeth in an apartment since productions of Shakespeare's plays are illegal. Enter the Inspector, an agent of the state who intimidates the actors and the audience (YOU!) Watching the play. Finally, Easy enters. Easy can now speak Dogg. Apparently Dogg is a language one "catches," like a disease. The cast of Macbeth catch Dogg from Easy and now perform Macbeth in Dogg, much to the chagrin of the inspector.

Written by: Tom Stoppard
Directed by: George Popovich
May 1992

Cast and Crew

Dogg's Hamlet

  • Able, Bernardo, Marcellus: Shannon Rochestera
  • Baker, Francisco, Horatio: Tracy Spada
  • Charlie, Ophelia: Linda Harris
  • Dogg: Kevin Walsh
  • Lady: Jennifer Sourbeck
  • Fox Major/ Hamlet: Keith Milewski
  • Mrs. Dogg/ Gertrude: Kathleen Docherty
  • Shakespeare: Jay Porter
  • Claudius: Sean Noonan
  • Polonius: Tom Hoagland
  • Laertes: Thomas Downey
  • Ghost: Robert W. Johnson
  • Grave Digger: Mary Figura
  • Osiric: William Korsak

Cahoot’s Macbeth

  • Macbeth: Kevin Walsh
  • Lady Macbeth, Witch #3: Jennifer Sourbeck
  • Banquo and Malcolm: Robert W. Johnson
  • Ross: Jay Porter
  • MacDuff and Murderer #1: Tom Hoagland
  • Duncan, Cahoot: Thomas Downey
  • Two Witches: Linda Harris, Shannon Rochester
  • Lennox, Messenger, Murderer #2: William Korsak
  • Inspector: Steve Andrews
  • Hostess: Mary Figura