“Convergence of Different Threads”: Tom Stoppard’s Dogg’s Hamlet, Cahoot’s Macbeth

  • Jadwiga UchmanEmail author
Part of the Second Language Learning and Teaching book series (SLLT)


Tom Stoppard’s varied and rich dramatic output seems to be characterized by some recurrent features, one of these being the intricate weaving together of a number of different motives, intertextual references, as well as literary, cultural, scientific, philosophical and political allusions—a dramatic technique which he himself calls the “convergence of different threads.” His double-bill, Dogg’s Hamlet, Cahoot’s Macbeth (1979), is no exception to the rule and most of the literati will immediately recognise Shakespeare’s two famous tragedies incorporated within its title. Not many people, however, will be able to reveal the other kernel stones of Stoppard’s inspiration. The Dogg in the title happens to be the literary pseudonym of Ed Berman, a naturalized American, who was the founder and director of Almost Free Ambiance Theatre. The word “Dogg” refers both to Berman, a friend of Stoppard, and the imaginary language invented by the playwright. The idea of constructing a language—similar to building a wall—was taken by Stoppard from Ludwig Wittgenstein, a member of the Vienna circle of positivist philosophers. Probably the most difficult word to decode is Cahoot. The imaginary Cahoot, who appears in the play, in a sitting-room production of Macbeth, during the normalization period in Czechoslovakia, is a reference to Pavel Kohout and Pavel Landovsky, Czech dissidents who organized the Living Room Theatre in their socialist country. Thus, Stoppard weaves a magnificent carpet by means of combining different threads, starting from people coming from different countries and cultures, as well as a variety of ideas from theatre and culture, to philosophy and politics.


Stoppard Drama Wittgenstein Berman Kohout 


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© Springer International Publishing AG 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.University of ŁódźŁódźPoland

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