Doubling in Kyd's The Spanish Tragedy

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Doubling in Kyd's The Spanish Tragedy

The World's Classics version of Kyd's the Spanish Tragedy has more than fifty-three roles*. This number can go much higher depending on the exact number of plural parts the director decided to allot. In other words, the script may read simply "nobles," or "attendants" and the reader can not be completely sure of the number of people referred to. If the performing company was limited in players, there may be only two "knights" but if the director had a large cast he may send in six. This means, after working on the doubling possibilities for three weeks, I can not be one hundred percent sure of which characters were played by whom because I do not know exactly how many parts I am trying to fill. Add that to the fact that there are some parts which only show up once in the whole play and share the stage with only one person. These particular roles can be played by almost anyone in the cast. Therefore, I paired up as many roles as I thought were necessary and left the rest to find an available player to take them.

In order to pair up some of the parts, the minimum number of players needed to be known. This will determine how many cast members had to be available not just for doubling but for staging the scene with the most roles at one time. This would be scene four in Act one. There is a minimum of twenty-two roles that need to be filled. Minimum because there are three plural roles: Spanish nobles, Trumpeters, and Attendants (Kyd, 2), which means at least two of each, and sixteen roles with individual titles. Thirty-one roles were then left to be divided amongst the cast as double parts and, in some cases, triple parts.

These remaining roles can not just be handed out randomly though. There are two basic guidelines used to determine who gets what parts: (1) An actor must play the same role throughout the entirety of the play and, (2) Two characters meeting in a scene can not be played by the same actor since it is impossible for one player to be in two different places at the same time. ( The attached chart shows all the meetings of characters in The Spanish Tragedy.
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