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Home :: Archive :: 2006 :: July ::
Private Productions
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 17.0646  Wednesday, 12 July 2006

[1] 	From: 	John Briggs <
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	Date: 	Tuesday, 11 Jul 2006 15:56:53 +0100
	Subj: 	Re: SHK 17.0638 Private Productions

[2] 	From: 	Bruce Young <
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	Date: 	Tuesday, 11 Jul 2006 14:27:58 -0600
	Subj: 	RE: SHK 17.0638 Private Productions


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From: 		John Briggs <
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Date: 		Tuesday, 11 Jul 2006 15:56:53 +0100
Subject: 17.0638 Private Productions
Comment: 	Re: SHK 17.0638 Private Productions

Ben Alexander wrote:

 >Is there any evidence to suspect that in private productions of the
 >great plays that some of the parts were taken by women; for instance
 >in MND?

Evidence of "private productions of the great plays" would be a fine start.

["It seems that the first performance of 'Hamlet' of which we have a 
specific record took place, bizarrely, on board a ship anchored off the 
coast of Africa in 1607." - Thompson & Taylor p.53]

John Briggs

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From: 		Bruce Young <
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 >
Date: 		Tuesday, 11 Jul 2006 14:27:58 -0600
Subject: 17.0638 Private Productions
Comment: 	RE: SHK 17.0638 Private Productions

Whether women played (before 1642) in private productions of MND or 
other "great plays" I don't know.  One place to look for evidence or at 
least for leads would be a recent book: Women Players in England, 
1500-1660, ed.  Pamela Allen Brown and Peter Parolin (Aldershot: 
Ashgate, 2005).  Here is the opening paragraph of the book's introduction:

"Scholars of early modern English drama are coming to recognize that 
while women were never members of professional troupes, they had long 
appeared as players in a variety of arenas, and at every level of 
society. It is no longer enough to say, along with E. K. Chambers, that 
women who performed were the exceptions that proved the rule. As Stephen 
Orgel points out, 'it is no longer clear just what the rule is' 
(Chambers 1: 137; Orgel, 8).  Queens, aristocrats, and gentlewomen 
danced, sang, and recited in masques, plays, and court and manor 
entertainments; non-elite women in village, town and city took roles in 
parish drama and festive pageantry; Italian prima donnas and French 
actresses came to England to perform for both courtiers and commoners; 
and poorer women worked as itinerant entertainers, ballad singers and 
mountebanks. Despite the opprobrium heaped on the theatrical woman, a 
few elite women took the female player as a model in staging their own 
identities. In the alternative playing areas of the street, alehouse, 
market square, parish green, manorhouse and court, women could be found 
performing; connecting these places were female spectators, patrons, and 
traveling entertainers.  The cultural knowledge about female playing 
that a spectator, actor, or playwright carried to the 'all-male' stage 
was therefore enormous."

Bruce Young

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