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Home :: Archive :: 2000 :: September ::
Re: Women's Roles
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 11.1692  Tuesday, 5 September 2000.

[1]     From:   W. L. Godshalk <
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        Date:   Monday, 04 Sep 2000 22:13:43 -0400
        Subj:   Re: SHK 11.1683 Re: Women's Roles

[2]     From:   John Briggs <
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        Date:   Tuesday, 5 Sep 2000 11:18:55 +0100
        Subj:   RE: SHK 11.1683 Re: Women's Roles


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           W. L. Godshalk <
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Date:           Monday, 04 Sep 2000 22:13:43 -0400
Subject: 11.1683 Re: Women's Roles
Comment:        Re: SHK 11.1683 Re: Women's Roles

Since Dave Kathman has been unable to consult Carl Bridenbaugh's Vexed
and Troubled Englishmen, let me help.  Bridenbaugh writes: "Men and boys
played all of the parts, which explains why one manager could be sure
that the audience would understand when he apologized for a delay in the
start of a play -- 'the queen was shaving'" (156).  I assume that
Bridenbaugh cites HMC Reading, XI: VII, 185, as his source.

Yours, Bill Godshalk

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           John Briggs <
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Date:           Tuesday, 5 Sep 2000 11:18:55 +0100
Subject: 11.1683 Re: Women's Roles
Comment:        RE: SHK 11.1683 Re: Women's Roles

Perhaps I could add a different perspective: musicologists are still
arguing about the age at which boys voices broke in previous centuries.
This has a bearing on, for example, the extent to which adult male
falsetto singing was employed or whether choirboys would have sung the
alto parts in early Tudor polyphony as well as the soprano, and also on
the question of the age of Bach's boy sopranos.  This latter question
would inform the debate over whether Bach used soloists for the soprano
line in his major choral works.  This is exactly the same question as
whether 'boys' would have had the experience and maturity to play the
major Shakespearean female roles.  The present consensus among
musicologists is that choirboys' voices didn't break until as late as 16
or 17, as late as the eighteenth century, so that they would have had
plenty of time to gain the necessary experience and maturity.  The same
arguments would apply to the boy actors.

John Briggs
 

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