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Home :: Archive :: 2001 :: July ::
Re: Squeaking Cleopatras
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 12.1791  Wednesday, 18 July 2001

[1]     From:   David Lindley <
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        Date:   Tuesday, 17 Jul 2001 18:19:14 +0100
        Subj:   Re: SHK 12.1765 Re: Squeaking Cleopatras

[2]     From:   Judi Crane <
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        Date:   Wednesday, 18 Jul 2001 11:08:12 +1000
        Subj:   Re: SHK 12.1765 Re: Squeaking Cleopatras


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           David Lindley <
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Date:           Tuesday, 17 Jul 2001 18:19:14 +0100
Subject: 12.1765 Re: Squeaking Cleopatras
Comment:        Re: SHK 12.1765 Re: Squeaking Cleopatras

> In so-called 'Pantomime' --still by far the most successful form of
> popular theatre in Britain-- the 'Dame' is traditionally played by a
> man, the 'Principal Boy' by a woman.
>
> T. Hawkes

Michael Dobson, in an article on the eighteenth-century Tempest in
Shakespeare Survey suggests that the Dryden-Davenant adaptation and its
subsequent rewritings offered its audience a cross-dressed Hippolito,
played by a woman, and Syxcorax played by a man, and concludes:

'Already equipped with a Principal Boy in Hippolito and a Dame in
Sycorax, and possessing a Wizard in Prospero and a Good Fairy in Ariel,
the Enchanted Island's assimilation as the standard festive treat of the
early eighteenth-century theatre identifies The Tempest as the ultimate
source of Panto as the London stage still knows it'.  So Shakespeare is
to blame for pantomime as well as everything else........

David Lindley

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Judi Crane <
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Date:           Wednesday, 18 Jul 2001 11:08:12 +1000
Subject: 12.1765 Re: Squeaking Cleopatras
Comment:        Re: SHK 12.1765 Re: Squeaking Cleopatras

Mea culpa, mea culpa, mea maxima culpa, Thomas Larque!

You are quite correct about Olivier's age.  I was relying on my
admittedly faulty memory.  Olivier played Kate just before his 15th
birthday.  At 10 he played Brutus in a performance which was witnessed
by Ellen Terry, Sybil Thorndike and Lady Beerbohm Tree.  That night
Terry wrote in her diary; 'the small boy who played Brutus is already a
great actor.'  Thorndike recalled; 'He had been on the stage only 5
minutes when we turned to each other and said - 'but this is an actor,
absolutely an actor. Born to it".  No comments about his not having the
breath.  Since when does age/ sex equal talent?  Margot Fonteyn danced
Juliet when in her 40s and well past the days of her own virginal
innocence.  Nureyev was still dancing Romeo aged 40 in the late 1970s,
innocence ditto.  Both absolutely believable and riveting in
performance.  Could Cleo, as the mouthpiece of her creator, be making a
comment on bad acting?  God knows, I've seen enough bad Bard over the
years, age and gender of the performers irrelevant.  Equally I've seen
and heard some memorable stuff; age, gender (and colour and body size
and political beliefs and religion and actors' hobbies, and Uncle Tom
Cobbleigh and all) aside.

Stuart, if you work in an all boys' school, then you should know that
hours of 'shouting' shouldn't phase the modern adolescent male in the
slightest!

Judi Crane

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