A Polish pianist has taken to the stage a quarter of a century after his death - after bequeathing his skull to Stratford’s Royal Shakespeare Company.
Acclaimed musician Andre Tchaikowsky died in 1982, but is now starring in the latest production of Hamlet with Dr Who star David Tennant.
Despite waiting in the wings for more than 25 years, the pianist’s legacy has finally made it to the stage.
Tennant is the first actor to use Mr Tchaikowsky’s skull in front of an audience. Although used in rehearsals, most actors have felt uncomfortable performing with it on stage and used a replica instead.
But Greg Doran, director of the current production, wanted to make the performance “as real as possible” and retrieved Mr Tchaikowsky’s skull from a tissue-lined box in the RSC’s archives.
Mr Tchaikowsky emigrated to Britain when he was four-years-old after surviving the Holocaust and soon became an avid fan of the Bard, regularly visiting Stratford-upon-Avon.
His life was cut short at the age of 46 from cancer, but his will stated that his organs should be donated to medical research and his skull given to the RSC for use in productions.
Mr Tchaikowsky’s family said they were delighted his dream to appear on stage in this way had been realised at last.
The skull is used in Act Five, Scene One when a grave digger unearths the remains of jester Yorick.
Hamlet famously holds the skull, before declaring the famous lines: “Alas, poor Yorick! I knew him Horatio: A fellow of infinite jest, of most excellent fancy.”