Wednesday, July 20, 2005

Letter To An English Teacher

Thanks for your paper on Dogg's Hamlet, Cahoot's Macbeth. You didn't ask me a specific question, but here are some random thoughts.

I do think that the Shakespearean English probably comes as a relief to the audience after the less-comprehensible Dogg part.

An important difference between Dogg words and confusing Shakespearean words is that, by investigating the etymology or just by thinking about it, one can see how the Shakespearean meaning of the word "silly" evolved into the modern meaning. But unless Tom Stoppard had some secret logic in mind, there is no interesting reason why "satisfied egg" should mean "my way."

It would be interesting to quiz an audience of students and see how many words of Dogg they had learned just from watching the play. I would be pleasantly surprised if they had learned very many (more than five).

As you know, one scene of Dogg's Hamlet involves rearranging the letters of "Dogg's Hamlet" into phrases like "Maths Old Egg" which have little meaning in English but mean something in Dogg. One thing we did in the Caltech production (I don't believe this was in the script) was rearrange the same lettered blocks to spell out "Ghost" during the Hamlet play. Two more phrases that could be spelled using those blocks are "Let's Go Mad" (for Hamlet) or "Hags Told Me" (for Macbeth).

Richard Mason


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