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Home :: Archive :: 2001 :: November ::
Re: The Tempest at the University of Cincinnati
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 12.2531  Friday, 2 November 2001

[1]     From:   John Ciccarelli <
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        Date:   Thursday, 01 Nov 2001 11:45:49 -0500
        Subj:   Re: Tempest Production U of Cincinnati

[2]     From:   Marcia Eppich-Harris <
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        Date:   Thursday, 1 Nov 2001 15:41:39 -0500
        Subj:   Re: SHK 12.2522 Re: The Tempest at the University of Cincinnati

[3]     From:   P. D. Holland <
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        Date:   Fri, 2 Nov 2001 09:39:23 -0000
        Subj:   Re: SHK 12.2522 Re: The Tempest at the University of Cincinnati

[4]     From:   Edward Pixley <
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        Date:   Friday, 02 Nov 2001 08:35:12 -0500
        Subj:   Re: SHK 12.2522 Re: The Tempest at the University of Cincinnati


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           John Ciccarelli <
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Date:           Thursday, 01 Nov 2001 11:45:49 -0500
Subject:        Re: Tempest Production U of Cincinnati

The idea of either changing traditional male roles to female or having
women play men is not only interesting creatively, but is also very
practical.  This is due to the usual lack of men and over abundance of
women auditioning for a given Shakespeare play and the few female roles
that are available.  My company has had a long tradition with "creative
casting" and while usually not altering the original time period of the
play.  Couple of cases: This past summer we did a production of Hamlet
where both Rosencrantz and Guildenstern were played by women playing
men, as well the gravediggers.  Interesting to note with this production
we also had an African-American Claudius and Gertrude, but a Caucasian
Hamlet and it worked very well.  We also did Richard III in which
several soldiers and messengers, including Catesby, were played by
women.  Other roles that we have done with women were Dromias for Comedy
of Errors, Feste for TN, some of the mechanicals in Mid Summer, and
Tranio and Gremio for Shrew.

One of the more interesting turns that I think we've done was in a
production of Macbeth where we changed the role of Malcolm to a woman.
Calling her Madelline, it didn't always work with the meter, but the
role gave an intersting challenge to the actress.  The famously long
scene involving Malcom and McDuff took on a whole new life when she
tried instead to seduce MacDuff with her ravings of sexual and other
evil appetites.  The scene came off as the character was empowered by
the dialouge rather than appearing slutty.  It also made the virginal
line and Malcolm's comforting of MacDuff at the news of his family's
death all the more poignant.  Ross and two other thanes were also played
by women as women.

In most productions the time period was kept the same and in all cases
it gave a new breath to the plays and characters.  It's a shame that
more professional houses or films aren't doing the same with creative
casting.  Despite new settings or themes, the characters are usually
left pretty much in tact.

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Marcia Eppich-Harris <
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Date:           Thursday, 1 Nov 2001 15:41:39 -0500
Subject: 12.2522 Re: The Tempest at the University of
Comment:        Re: SHK 12.2522 Re: The Tempest at the University of
Cincinnati

I saw an all female version of Twelfth Night at my alma mater, St.
Mary-of-the-Woods College, about two years ago. It was really good. I
loved the woman who played Festes. They had her singing most of her
lines, and she had a beautiful voice. In fact, I had her sing at my
wedding.

The all female cast made the cross dressing issue even more funny. By
the way, St. Mary-of-the-Woods is the oldest all women's Catholic
college in the United States, and it is dedicated to women's issues.
Many plays out there are performed by all women when it's feasible. Last
week, they performed an original play that is about three of
Shakespeare's female characters who go to a psychologist together. It's
called  "Group Therapy for Shakespeare's Women" by Sharon Ammen (&
William Shakespeare). Ammen is the Theatre director at St.
Mary-of-the-Woods. I was in an all female version of "The Wiz" under her
direction. No, it wasn't Shakespeare, but Sharon's an amazing director.
I've seen a lot of shows that she directed, and one that she wrote.
Anyway, the "Group Therapy" play uses Cleopatra, Portia, and Ophelia in
a group therapy session. Unfortunately, I was out of town last weekend
and was unable to see the performances, but I heard that it was great. I
am going to contact Sharon to see if I could get a copy of the script.

If you think about it, since the Elizabethans used all men all the time
on stage, why wouldn't it be equally as feasible to use all women casts
on occasion? I've seen Twelfth Night twice now, once in at the Stratford
festival, and the all female cast was actually, in my opinion, better. I
could, of course, be biased.

Has anyone else had this kind of experience with all-female casts?

Marcia.

[3]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           P. D. Holland <
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Date:           Fri, 2 Nov 2001 09:39:23 -0000
Subject: 12.2522 Re: The Tempest at the University of
Comment:        Re: SHK 12.2522 Re: The Tempest at the University of
Cincinnati

A provocative production of The Tempest directed by Declan Donellan for
Cheek by Jowl (touring in the UK in the late 1980s) changed Alonso into
Alonsa and made her up to look uncannily and threateningly like Margaret
Thatcher.

[4]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Edward Pixley <
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Date:           Friday, 02 Nov 2001 08:35:12 -0500
Subject: 12.2522 Re: The Tempest at the University of
Comment:        Re: SHK 12.2522 Re: The Tempest at the University of
Cincinnati

New York's award-winning Judith Shakespeare Company (Joanne Zipay,
artistic director) has been exploring this question in productions and
staged readings for the last six years, and they staged a
Prospera-centered Tempest this past May, which had very good critical
response.

The company's name was inspired by Virginia Woolf's essay exploring the
career possibilities of an imagined sister of Shakespeare, named Judith,
whose talents were equal to her brother's.

Ed Pixley

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