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Home :: Archive :: 1992 :: October ::
More Rs: Changing the Gender of Shakespearean
Shakespeare Electronic Conference, Vol. 3, No. 248.  Tuesday, 13 October 1992.
 
(1)	From: 	Steve Urkowitz <
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	Date: 	Monday, Oct. 12, 1992, 21:08:52 EDT
	Subj: 	Re: Changing the Gender of Shakespearean Characters
 
(2)	From: 	Richard Gale <
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	Date: 	Tuesday, Oct. 13, 1992, 08:13:34 -0500 (CDT)
	Subj: 	Re: Changing the Gender of Shakespearean Characters
 
(1)---------------------------------------------------------------------------
 
From: 		Steve Urkowitz <
 This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
 >
Date: 		Monday, Oct. 12, 1992, 21:08:52 EDT
Subject: 	Re: Changing the Gender of Shakespearean Characters
 
About the gender of actors playing gendered roles:  The world of play allows
and encourages imaginative substitutions.  At City College of New York a few
years ago, I saw a brilliant young woman play Hal in *Henry IV Part 1*.  Part
of her preparation was exploring the physical life of being an athletically
trained young man.  She was a joy to watch.  Though there are other discussions
of cross-gender casting, you might want to look at the description of work by
the British CHEEK BY JOWL company.  Their *As You Like It* in 1991 was one of
the most graceful and sexually sensitive performances of the play I've ever
seen.  A wise and stimulating description of the company's work is Simon Reade,
CHEEK BY JOWL: TEN YEARS OF CELEBRATION (I don't have the publisher, but the
ISBN # is 0 949230 49 5).  (An oddity in the book is that the description of
the AYLI may be found ten or a dozen pages beyond the page listed in the table
of contents.)  The company director's approach to exploring sexual definitions
made me want to try his ideas someday when I'm very very confident . . .
 
                         Steve Urkowitz, SURCC@CUNYVM
 
(2)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
 
From: 		Richard Gale <
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Date: 		Tuesday, Oct. 13, 1992, 08:13:34 -0500 (CDT)
Subject: 	Re: Changing the Gender of Shakespearean Characters
 
>How common is it to change the gender of Shakepearean characters?
 
I am currently dramaturging a university production of "As You Like
It" wherein we are faced with the same problems.  In most university
settings there will be more women than men auditioning for the roles,
and you either have to accept some kind of gender switch or go
outside the acting pool to form your cast.  The latter causes a great
deal of difficulty as the outsiders will invariable be placed in the
larger roles, thus excluding university talent.  Not a good
situation.
 
At the start of the quarter we had fifteen males audition for a play
that could use twice that.  We also had two strong males and three
strong females from the MFA program.  Given the nature of the play,
we felt that casting women "as" men would be inappropriate, so our
solution was to cast the three MFA females as Rosalind, Celia, and
Jaques, and to cast Corin, Amiens, and the First Lord (now first lady)
as women.
 
So far (two weeks into rehearsals) all is well, and actually the
necessity of the situation has brought out some interesting
discoveries.  What it comes down to is working with what you have and
making the best of the situation.  Comments?
 
r.g.
 
Richard Gale
University of Minnesota
 

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