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In Dogg's Hamlet we find the actors speaking a language called Dogg, which consists of ordinary English
words but with meanings completely different from the ones we assign them. Three schoolchildren are rehearsing
a performance of Hamlet in English, which is to them a foreign language. Cahoot's Macbeth is usually performed
with Dogg's Hamlet, and shows a performance of Macbeth carried out under the eyes of a secret policeman who
suspects the actors of subversion against the state.
The comma that divides Dogg's Hamlet, Cahoot's Macbeth also serve to unite two plays which have common elements:
the first is hardly a play at all without the second, which cannot be performed without the first.
Dogg's hamlet is a conflation of two pieces written for Ed Berman and Inter-Action; namely Dogg's Our Pet,
which opened the Almost Free Theatre in Soho in December 1971, and The Dogg's Troupe 15-Minute Hamlet, which was written
(or rather edited) for performance on a double-decker bus.
Cahoot's Macbeth is dedicated to the Czechoslovakian playwright Pavel Kohout. During the last decade of
'normalization' which followed the fall of Bubcek, thousands of Czecholovaks have been prevented from pursuing
their carreers. Among them are many writers and actors.
During a short visit to Prague Stoppard met Kohout and Pavel Landovsky, a well-known actor who had been banned
from working for years since falling foul of the authorities.
A year later Kohout wrote to Stoppard: 'As you know, many Czech theatre-people are not allowed to work in the
theatre during the last years. As one of them who cannot live without theatre I was searching for a possibility
to do theatre in spite of circumstances. Now I am glad to tell you (Stoppard) that in a few days, after eight weeks
rehearsals - a Living-Room Theatre is opening, with nothing smaller than Macbeth.
What is LRT? A call-group. Everybody, who wants to have Macbeth at home with two great and forbidden Czech actors,
Pavel Landovsky and Vlasta Chramostova, can invite friends and call us. Five people will come with one suitcase.'
The letter was written in June, and in August there was a postscript: 'Macbeth is now performed in Prague flats.'
Cahoot's Macbeth was inspired by these events. However, Cahoot is not Kohout, and this Macbeth is not supposed
to be afair representation of Kohout's elegant seventy-five minute version.
Extract from book:
The castle battlements at night. Noise of carouse, cannon, fireworks.
HORATIO and HAMLET appear on platform built by Easy.
HAMLET: The King doth wake tonight and takes his rouse,
Though I am native here and to the manner born,
It is a custom more honoured in the breach
Than in the observance.
HORATIO: Look my lord, it comes. (Points)
(Enter GHOST above the wall built of blocks)
HAMLET: Angels and ministers of grace defend us!
Something is rotten in the state of Denmark!
Alas, poor ghost.
GHOST: I am thy father's spirit.
Revenge his foul and most unnatural murder.
GHOST: The serpent that did sting thy father's life
Now wears his crown.
HAMLET: O my prophetic soul? Mine uncle?
(Exit GHOST. To HORATIO.)
There are more things in heaven and earth
Than are dreamt of in your philosophy.
Hereafter I shall think meet
To put an antic disposition on.
The time is out of joint. O cursed spite
That ever I was born to set it right!
(Exit HAMLET. Moon hinges down. End scene.)
About the author:
The playwright Tom Stoppard was born Tomáš Straussler in Zlín, Czechoslovakia on July 3, 1937. He received an
English education in India, to which his family had fled to avoid the Japanese invasion of Singapore. His
father was killed during this exodus, and his mother married a British army major named Stoppard, who gave
the boy his Anglo-Saxon surname. The family moved to England.
Stoppard left school at seventeen and began work as a journalist. By 1960 he had completed his first play
A Walk on the Water, which was later produced as Enter a Free Man.
One of Stoppard's most famous works is Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead, a comedic play which casts
two minor characters from Hamlet as its leads but with the same lack of power to affect their world or
exterior circumstances as they have in Shakespeare's original. Hamlet's role is similarly reversed in terms
of his stage time and lines, but it is in his wake that the heroes drift helplessly toward their inevitable
demise. Rather than shaping events, they pass the time playing witty word games and pondering the hows,
wheres, whys and whos of their predicament. It is similar in many ways to Samuel Beckett's absurdist
Waiting for Godot particularly in the main characters' lack of purpose and comprehension of their situation.
By 1977, Stoppard had become concerned with human rights issues, in particular with the situation of political
dissidents in Eastern Europe and the Soviet Union. In February 1977, he visited Russia with a member of
Amnesty International. In June, Stoppard met Vladimir Bukovsky in London and travelled to Czechoslovakia
(then under communist control), where he met Václav Havel, at that time a dissident playwright. Stoppard
became involved with Index On Censorship, Amnesty International, and the Committee against Psychiatric
Abuse and wrote various newspaper articles and letters about human rights. Stoppard was also intrumental
in translating Havel's works into English.
He was nominated for an Academy Award for the script of Brazil in 1985, and won one in 1999 for Shakespeare in
He was appointed CBE in 1978 and knighted in 1997. He has been co-opted into the Outrapo group. He has been
married twice, to Jose Ingle (1965-72), a nurse, and to Miriam Moore-Robinson (1972-92), whom he left to begin
a relationship with actress Felicity Kendal. He has two sons from each marriage.
Dogg's Hamlet, Cahoot's Macbeth by Tom Stoppard
Paperback 80 pages (June 9, 1980)
Publisher: Faber and Faber
Preis: out of print - € ????
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