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Home :: Archive :: 2001 :: June ::
Re: Colorblindness
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 12.1438  Monday, 11 June 2001

[1]     From:   David Lindley <
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        Date:   Friday, 8 Jun 2001 16:14:09 +0100
        Subj:   Re: SHK 12.1424 Re: Colorblindness

[2]     From:   Mike Jensen <
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        Date:   Friday, 08 Jun 2001 09:32:52 -0700
        Subj:   Re: SHK 12.1424 Re: Colorblind

[3]     From:   Philip Tomposki <
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        Date:   Friday, 8 Jun 2001 14:44:30 EDT
        Subj:   Re: Colorblindness

[4]     From:   Don Bloom <
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        Date:   Friday, 08 Jun 2001 11:49:34 -0500
        Subj:   Re: SHK 12.1424 Re: Colorblindness


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           David Lindley <
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Date:           Friday, 8 Jun 2001 16:14:09 +0100
Subject: 12.1424 Re: Colorblindness
Comment:        Re: SHK 12.1424 Re: Colorblindness


>What input might I get about casting Shylock with a female actor? My
>best actor is female and I thought it might add some interesting  sub
>text.

If it is gender-*blind* casting it precisely adds no subtexts at all,
indeed prohibits an audience from reading for subtexts.  If it is
cross-gender casting, then it's very different, and allows for all the
subtexts you like.

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Mike Jensen <
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Date:           Friday, 08 Jun 2001 09:32:52 -0700
Subject: 12.1424 Re: Colorblindness
Comment:        Re: SHK 12.1424 Re: Colorblindness

My friend Michael Morrison is a believer in colorblind casting, but is
aware of the political climate that makes it a no-no to cast white
people in colored roles.  Michael is Jewish.  His wife is
African-American.

One day, Michael and I were walking around New York City going to second
hand bookstores, and we talked about his son Noah.  Michael said,
"Nobody can tell him he can't play both Othello and Shylock!"

Well done, Michael!

Mike Jensen

[3]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Philip Tomposki <
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Date:           Friday, 8 Jun 2001 14:44:30 EDT
Subject:        Re: Colorblindness

"What input might I get about casting Shylock with a female actor? My
best actor is female and I thought it might add some interesting  sub
text. I am sure it has been done..anyone seen it done and what's the
reaction?

Virginia Byrne"

The regrettably now defunct Rhode Island Shakespeare Theatre did a
version of MoV with a female Shylock about a dozen years ago.  If memory
serves, the director made no attempt to alter the setting or time.
Shylock was played as a female.  Except for the necessary language
changes (i.e. mother for father, she for he, etc.) no attempt was made
to 'feminize' the role.  Fortunately, the actress playing Shylock was
strong enough in the part so that I quickly forgot she was supposed to
be male.  I suspect that if the director had tried to make more of the
actor's sex it would have been more of a distraction than an asset.

All this, of course, begs the question of why you want your strongest
actor taking the role of Shylock.  If I recall correctly, the original
topic of the 'Tragic Hero' discussion, before it veered off into a
debate over alleged Hebrew subtexts, dealt with the appropriateness of
making Shylock the central character of the play.  IMHO this is not what
Shakespeare had in mind.  (After all, Shylock has, I believe, the
shortest role of all the principals.) Portia would seem a better
choice.  In the TRIST production, Portia was played by a more
attractive, younger looking actor who, fortunately, was able to hold her
own.  For better or worse, visual impact on stage does matter, and if
that's your consideration, by all means give it a try.  Otherwise,
unless you also have a very strong candidate for Portia, you may want to
rethink this option.

Philip Tomposki

[4]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Don Bloom <
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Date:           Friday, 08 Jun 2001 11:49:34 -0500
Subject: 12.1424 Re: Colorblindness
Comment:        Re: SHK 12.1424 Re: Colorblindness

My rather predictable reaction to the proposed female Shylock is, "Oh,
God, not again."

Ms Byrne: think of the sub-text that will be *lost*.

On the other hand, if you already conceive of the play as a choice
vehicle for your best actor, cast as Shylock, then we are probably so
far apart that it doesn't matter.

Still, why don't you let the girl do Rosalind or Lady Macbeth or
something?

Regards,
don

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