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Home :: Archive :: 2003 :: September ::
Women Fencing
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 14.1821  Friday, 19 September 2003

From:           D Bloom <
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Date:           Thursday, 18 Sep 2003 14:53:16 -0500
Subject: 14.1805 Nahum Tate and Co
Comment:        Re: SHK 14.1805 Nahum Tate and Co

Just a query: while I can see how having a woman play a teen-age boy
would have many advantages over a man doing so (the same advantage in
having a boy play a woman), I wonder about the sword-play. Did the
actresses actually become master fencers? Or did they simply cut back on
the fencing in the productions?

There is no reason why a woman could not be a fencer, of course. Many
are.  But while a man interested in doing Shakespearean leads has to
learn it, or prevent himself from getting cast for some of the best lead
roles (Hamlet, Macbeth, and Prince Hal, as well as Romeo), not to
mention their opponents, a woman would not ordinarily need to.

So, again my question: do we know if these women studied fencing to
prepare for taking on the part of Romeo?

Cheers,
 don

>>Lots - as so many actors failed as Romeo!  The Cushman, Caroline
>>Rankley, Margaret Leighton, Esme Beringer, Ellen Tree etc etc etc all
>>played Romeo, Any more?
>
>It was the American Lydia Kelley who started the female Romeo vogue when
>she took the role in 1829.
>
>Ellen Tree played both. Juliet to Edmund Kean and Romeo to none other
>than Fanny Kemble.
>
>Priscilla Horton preceded Charlotte Cushman. Cushman played Romeo to
>both her sister and then the incomparable Ada Swanborough. Cushman was
>hailed as "far superior to any Romeo that has been seen for years."
>
>In America, the tradition was kept alive by H.B. Conway and then, the
>first great star of Little Rock, Arkansas, Fay Templeton, who years
>later would appear in the movie Broadway to Hollywood.

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