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Home :: Archive :: 1993 :: July ::
Re: Boys Playing Women
Shakespeare Electronic Conference, Vol. 4, No. 442.  Wednesday, 21 July 1993.
 
(1)     From:   Fran Teague <
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        Date:   Tuesday, 20 Jul 93 09:26:54 EDT
        Subj:   Re: SHK 4.0438  Boys Playing Women
 
(2)     From:   Timothy Bowden <
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        Date:   Tuesday, 20 Jul 93 08:55:17 PST
        Subj:   Re: SHK 4.0438  Boys Playing Women
 
(3)     From:   Kay Stockholder <
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        Date:   Tuesday, 20 Jul 93 12:19:44 PDT
        Subj:   SHK 4.0438  Boys Playing Women
 
 
(1)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Fran Teague <
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Date:           Tuesday, 20 Jul 93 09:26:54 EDT
Subject: 4.0438  Boys Playing Women
Comment:        Re: SHK 4.0438  Boys Playing Women
 
At the Shakespeare Association meeting in Kansas City, Bruce Smith presented a
very interesting paper on this very subject of voices, gender, and age.
 
As for the age of the boys, I believe that while a few of the boy actors were
12 or 13, the great majority of them were in their late teens and early
twenties.  The books by Harold Hillebrand and Michael Shapiro would be useful
here.
 
Re Cardenio again, a student sends me note that Hamilton will publish his
"edition" of Cardenio with Glenbridge Publishing Ltd. of Lakewood, Colorado.
 
And re the foreign languages, I've always found it interesting that in H5 the
Frenchmen speak English and the Frenchwomen speak French.  (In the current
Georgia Shakespeare Festival production, the Katherine-Alice scenes are really
wonderful, better than other parts of production.  The Shrew they're doing is
astonishing and worth a trip to Atlanta.)
 
(2)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Timothy Bowden <
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Date:           Tuesday, 20 Jul 93 08:55:17 PST
Subject: 4.0438  Boys Playing Women
Comment:        Re: SHK 4.0438  Boys Playing Women
 
I have to confess a bit of perplexity of my own when I try to imagine the
orientation of an audience to any drama wherein the greatest love scenes in
the language are played out by a man to a young boy.  I recall also the
discomfiture of the various profs who attempt to explain away the
dynamics of the finest love poetry in English written from an aging poet
to his young lord.
 
Begs the question, I suppose;  was the actual, rather than the mock, gender
makeup onstage a part of the emotional involvement of the audience?  I'm
assuming somewhere this point has been taken up by the scholars, but don't know
precisely where...
 
=========================================================

 This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
  (Timothy Bowden)
uunet!scruz.ucsc.edu!clovis.felton.ca.us!tcbowden
Clovis in Felton, CA
=========================================================
 
(3)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Kay Stockholder <
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Date:           Tuesday, 20 Jul 93 12:19:44 PDT
Subject: Boys Playing Women
Comment:        SHK 4.0438  Boys Playing Women
 
Since the womanliness of female characters in the comedies is called to
audience attention by the text, I would suppose that Shakespeare would expect
his boy actors to to convey a feminine impression even when dressed as boys. In
these plays I think that the boy dressed as girl who plays a boy does
deliberately flirt with the audience awareness of the male actor and play on
the conssequent complextity of gender relationships. I don't think that this is
so in the tragedies, where nothing in the text calls attention to the fact that
the woman are played by boys. To suppose that the fact of boy actors is always
relevant to the significance of the play rests on the assumptions of cultural
materialism. That is, it assumes that the material reality must have signiicant
reverberation in literary works, and that the imagination cannot function
independently.  I think that this is a mistaken view.
 

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