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Home :: Archive :: 1994 :: October ::
Re: Shakespeare's Boys
Shakespeare Electronic Conference, Vol. 5, No. 0840.  Monday, 24 October 1994.
 
(1)     From:   W. L. Godshalk <
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        Date:   Saturday, 22 Oct 1994 23:22:48 -0500 (EST)
        Subj:   Re: SHK 5.0834  Shakespeare's Boys
 
(2)     From:   Adrian Kiernander <
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        Date:   Sunday, 23 Oct 1994 16:36:02 +1000 (EST)
        Subj:   Re: Shakespeare's Boys
 
 
(1)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           W. L. Godshalk <
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Date:           Saturday, 22 Oct 1994 23:22:48 -0500 (EST)
Subject: 5.0834  Shakespeare's Boys
Comment:        Re: SHK 5.0834  Shakespeare's Boys
 
I have an anecdote. Back in the early 60s, before I had read EPICOENE, I saw a
production of the play at Tufts. It was very well done (as I recall), and I
recall vividly the moment when the wig came off. I and most of the ignorant in
the audience made strange sounds when we realized that this very pretty young
woman was a young man of, say, twenty years.
 
Randle Holme, ACADEMY OF ARMORY, Book II, chapter XVII (3e2r), claims that a
babe becomes a Boy or Lad at seven, a Stripling or young Boy from seven to
fourteen, a Youth (or Adolescens or Juvenal) from fourteen to twenty-one. One
is a young man until 30. Thereafter it's all down hill.
 
Yours, Bill Godshalk
 
(2)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Adrian Kiernander <
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Date:           Sunday, 23 Oct 1994 16:36:02 +1000 (EST)
Subject:        Re: Shakespeare's Boys
 
Further to what Roger Gross has said, there seems to be plenty of evidence from
the plays that the actors were young males with unbroken voices. Portia talks
about her impersonation of a young lawyer, saying that she will "speak between
the change of man and boy/ With a reed voice". Hamlet exclaims that the actor
who is to play the Player Queen has grown --"nearer heaven than when I saw you
last by the altitude of a chopine"-- and prays that his "voice, like a piece of
uncurrent gold, be not cracked within the ring". Viola presents herself as a
eunuch, appropriately named Cesario, when she is in disguise. Julia in Two
Gents wants to disguise herself as "some well-reputed page" and Rosalind, while
hoping for a manly aspect in her disguise, nevertheless chooses the name
Ganymede, "Jove's own page". These roles seem more fitted to what we now think
of as boys than to adult males, though the Cheek By Jowl AYLI which I saw
several years ago convinced me that the other is possible.
 
Adrian Kiernander
University of New England

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