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Home :: Archive :: 2004 :: October ::
Twilight of the Gods
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 15.1867  Friday, 8 October 2004

[1]     From:   Peter Holland <
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        Date:   Thursday, 7 Oct 2004 12:06:49 -0500
        Subj:   Re: SHK 15.1851 Twilight of the Gods

[2]     From:   Charles Weinstein <
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        Date:   Thursday, 7 Oct 2004 19:04:48 -0400
        Subj:   Re: SHK 15.1851 Twilight of the Gods


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Peter Holland <
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Date:           Thursday, 7 Oct 2004 12:06:49 -0500
Subject: 15.1851 Twilight of the Gods
Comment:        Re: SHK 15.1851 Twilight of the Gods

Cary,

On Olivier's sexuality. I, like you, am not remotely interested in
whether or not Olivier did or did not have a series of homosexual
relationships throughout his life. But there is a brilliant essay on his
performance of sexuality by Michael Billington: 'Lasciviously Pleasing'
in Garry O'Connor, ed., *Olivier: In Celebration* (New York, 1987),
including the superb description of Olivier's Archie Rice as
'ambisextrously comic'.

Peter

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Charles Weinstein <
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Date:           Thursday, 7 Oct 2004 19:04:48 -0400
Subject: 15.1851 Twilight of the Gods
Comment:        Re: SHK 15.1851 Twilight of the Gods

Cary Mazer writes:

"I'm sure Weinstein would agree:  a bisexual like Olivier could never be
credible playing the more virile roles in the Shakespeare canon.

Oops, I'm sorry; I thought he was talking about Beale.  And of course,
Olivier wasn't a fatso, so I suppose his having been a faggot is
probably OK."

Actually, Donald Spoto's idea that Olivier was a practicing bisexual
(or, if you like, a sometime "faggot") has been pretty thoroughly
exploded by now.  See Roger Lewis, The Real Life of Laurence Oliver;
Tarquin Olivier, My Father Laurence Olivier; and Joan Plowright, And
That's Not All.

That having been said, there is no doubt as to the pronounced feminine
element in Olivier's performances.  But Olivier, you see, was a
genius--or, if you like, a supremely clever and cunning artificer.  He
knew how to use femininity to enhance his fascination to both sexes.
Witness his marvelously dainty yet masterful Macheath; his Othello, at
once pantherish and coquettish; his Richard III, flirting with the
camera with lowered lashes.  This was a man who could fashion an
ambisexual persona and make it work for him.  In that, he is to be
contrasted with his less gifted successors.

--Charles Weinstein

"We can't match him [Olivier]--none of us can--ever!"--Ian McKellen, as
reported by Antony Sher (who agreed).

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