Skull prop left behind after Kennebunk “Hamlet” performance scares passerby, triggers police response

Posted July 25, 2013, at 11:23 a.m.
Last modified July 25, 2013, at 5:15 p.m.
The discovery of a skull in the Village Green prompted a passer-by to call police. MaineStage Shakespeare performers accidentally left the skull behind after a performance of “Hamlet.”
Courtesy photo | York County Coast Star
The discovery of a skull in the Village Green prompted a passer-by to call police. MaineStage Shakespeare performers accidentally left the skull behind after a performance of “Hamlet.”

KENNEBUNK, Maine — To call or not to call, that was the question for one Village Green passerby who called police reporting what they thought was a human remain. But it ended up being much ado about nothing.

The misconstrued object was a plastic skull left behind on Kennebunkport’s Village Green after a MaineStage Shakespeare performance of “Hamlet” on Tuesday, July 16. The next night, as the group was preparing for a performance of “Much Ado About Nothing” on the lawn of the Colony Hotel, Managing Artistic Director Chiara Klein said she was approached by a police officer who, with a very straight face, asked, “Did somebody leave a skull at the Village Green last night?”

MaineStage Shakespeare has been performing Shakespeare’s classics in Kennebunk for the past three years and is performing in Kennebunkport for the first time this summer.

With five fake skulls used for the grave digger scene of “Hamlet,” Klein told the officer that it wasn’t out of the realm of possibility for the crew to lose track of one. She advised the officer that the skull would “look pretty fake.”

Just 10 minutes later, the officer came back to The Colony, handing Klein a brown paper bag containing the troublesome prop.

“It didn’t say made in China, but it’s very obviously fake,” Klein said. “It’s made of plastic and it’s sort of smaller than a normal skull would be.”

After the gravedigger scene, Klein said “Hamlet” takes one skull off the stage, placing it next to a set of lights, while Klein, who plays the gravedigger, brings the other four with her.

“When we were picking up, someone must have missed it. Someone must have seen it from afar and called the police,” she said. “It’s a cautionary tale; be especially careful with your death props.”

Klein said performers have used other somewhat scary props, like swords, but has never had anything like this happen before.

“So far, so good,” she said.

To catch the skulls in action, check out an upcoming performance: today, “Much Ado About Nothing,” 7 p.m. in Lafayette Park in Kennebunk; Friday, July 26, “Hamlet,” 7 p.m. in Lafayette Park; Saturday, July 27, “The Complete Works of William Shakespeare (Abridged),” 2 p.m. in Lafayette Park, and “Much Ado About Nothing,” 7 p.m. in Lafayette Park; Tuesday, July 30, “Hamlet,” 7 p.m., Kennebunkport Village Green; and Wednesday, July 31, “Much Ado About Nothing,” 7 p.m., The Colony Hotel. For a full schedule visit mainestageshakespeare.com. All performances are free and open to the public.

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