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Home :: Archive :: 1993 :: July ::
Re: Boys Playing Women
Shakespeare Electronic Conference, Vol. 4, No. 453.  Sunday, 25 July 1993.
 
(1)     From:   William Godshalk <
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        Date:   Saturday, 24 Jul 1993 11:10:16 -0400 (EDT)
        Subj:   Re: SHK 4.0448  Re: Boys Playing Women
 
 
(2)     From:   Kay Stockholder <
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        Date:   Saturday, 24 Jul 93 18:19:44 PDT
        Subj:   SHK 4.0448  Re: Boys Playing Women
 
 
(1)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           William Godshalk <
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Date:           Saturday, 24 Jul 1993 11:10:16 -0400 (EDT)
Subject: 4.0448  Re: Boys Playing Women
Comment:        Re: SHK 4.0448  Re: Boys Playing Women
 
I suppose one should not reply to one's own questions, but I saw MUCH ADO again
last night (I still love it, and think it's better the second time!), and I was
struck with II.i.32-36 (Riverside). Leonato says to Beatrice: "You may light on
a husband that hath no beard." She replies: "What should I do with him? dress
him in my apparel and make him my waiting-gentlewoman?" I realize that this is
not wonderful evidence about stage practice, but it does SUGGEST that a
beardless male can play the part of a female character. Doesn't it?
 
Questionably yours, Bill Godshalk
 
(2)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Kay Stockholder <
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 >
Date:           Saturday, 24 Jul 93 18:19:44 PDT
Subject: Re: Boys Playing Women
Comment:        SHK 4.0448  Re: Boys Playing Women
 
I agree strongly with Tom Loughlin's comment on the non-realistic conventions
of the Elizabethan stage. Though I imagine some voice differentiation could be
achieved either by boys, or by mature men using higher registers of their
voices, as Steve Urkowitz suggests. I think this is part of the same problem
that bessets productions that have the actors try to speak Shakespeare's poetry
as though it were prose, that is, the voice and facial expressiveness such as a
modern person would imagine herself using in a comparable situtation. One can't
prove it, of course, but I think that Shakespeare assumed that the poetry would
convey its own message, and that he had a different conception of the voice and
gesture that would suit the lines than we do.
 

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