Human skull of Polish pianist used in British Hamlet production

The Associated Press ~ staff The News
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LONDON A Polish pianist has made his stage debut in Britain, 26 years after his death.

Andre Tchaikowskys skull featured in performances of Hamlet by the Royal Shakespeare Company between July and November, company spokeswoman Nada Zakula said Wednesday.

Director Greg Doran said he did not disclose the skulls use earlier because he feared the news might overshadow the play.

I thought it would topple the play and it would be all about (Hamlet actor) David (Tennant) acting with a real skull, Doran was quoted as saying by The Daily Telegraph.

It was the first time the skull was used in a performance Tchaikowskys expressed wish though the company had used it in rehearsals since it was donated in 1982.

Before this Hamlet, the company had never used a real skull and it had to get permission from the governments Human Tissue Authority to use Tchaikowskys because it was less than 100 years old.

Tchaikowskys 1979 will stipulated that his skull be offered to the Royal Shakespeare Company for use in theatrical performance.

We hope that he would have been pleased that his final wish has been realized, company curator David Howells said.

It was unclear if the skull would be used when the companys production moves from its base in Stratford-upon-Avon to London next Wednesday, Zakula said.

Tchaikowsky, a fan of William Shakespeares plays, had finished orchestrating all but 24 bars of his operatic adaptation of The Merchant of Venice when he died from stomach cancer on June 26, 1982.

News of his unique bequest became known soon after.

He was passionate about Shakespeare and attended many performances, Terry Hands said in 1982, when he was joint artistic director of the company. We are honoured by his bequest.

Andrzej Czajkowski was born in 1935 in the Polish capital of Warsaw as Robert Andrzej Krauthammer. He was given his new name on false identity documents used to smuggle him out of Nazi-occupied Warsaw in 1942, according to a website dedicated to the musician.

On the Net:

Organizations: Royal Shakespeare Company, Daily Telegraph, Human Tissue Authority

Geographic location: British Hamlet, Britain, Warsaw Stratford-upon-Avon Venice

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