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Bookmark and Share Tennant's RSC Skull - UPDATED

11/26/2008 03:33:00 am - Reported by DWNP Archive

Posted By Brigadier Bill

The Royal Shakespeare Company has revealed that the skull used by David Tennant for the "Alas, poor Yorick," scene in 22 performances of Hamlet at Stratford-upon-Avon had been donated to the RSC after the 1982 death of pianist Andrew Tchaikowsky.

In his will, Tchaikowsky wrote that his skull "shall be offered by the institution receiving my body to the Royal Shakespeare Company for use in theatrical performance".

Since then, it has only been used in rehearsals because no actor felt comfortable enough using it on stage in front of an audience.

In 1989, actor Mark Rylance rehearsed with it for a while, but in the end it was decided using the skull for performances would not be appropriate and the real thing was returned to the props department, where it resided in a tissue-lined box for almost 20 years.

It remained there until Greg Doran, who directed Tennant in Hamlet, retrieved it for his production. "It was sort of a little shock tactic. Though, of course, to some extent that wears off and it's just AndrĂ©, in his box," Doran told the Daily Telegraph. He added that he did not want the story to get out before Hamlet opened. He said: "I thought it would topple the play and it would be all about David acting with a real skull."

UPDATE - DECEMBER 3: The skull is not being used during Hamlet's run in London for fear it will distract the audience, according to a BBC News report today. The production previews at the Novello Theatre from today and has a limited engagement until January 10. Earlier this week, it was reportedthat fake tickets for the London performances had begun circulating.