Pianist's Skull Steals Hamlet Scene

Concert pianist left skull to theater
By Peter Fearon,  Newser Staff
Posted Nov 26, 2008 9:24 AM CST
David Tennant as Hamlet in the Royal Shakespeare Company's latest production of "Hamlet".   (AP Photo/Royal Shakespeare Company, Ellie Kurttz)
camera-icon View 1 more image

(Newser) – A concert pianist has appeared on stage in a 22-performance run of Hamlet—26 years after his death. André Tchaikowsky, a Polish Jew who was smuggled out of Warsaw as a child of 7, left his skull to the Royal Shakespeare Company upon his death in 1982. It was finally used in the graveyard scene as the unearthed skull of Yorick, the jester, by actor David Tennant, in performances in Stratford, the Times of London reports.

Actors over the years declined to use the skull as they found it distracting, or it made them queasy. And its provenance was kept secret from the audience and some of the crew until the final performance. “I thought it would topple the play and it would be all about David acting with a real skull," says director Greg Doran.