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Home :: Archive :: 2006 :: July ::
Against All-Male Productions
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 17.0665  Friday, 14 July 2006

[1] 	From: 	Sam Small <
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	Date: 	Thursday, 13 Jul 2006 19:04:01 +0100
	Subj: 	Re: SHK 17.0659 Against All-Male Productions

[2] 	From: 	Bill Lloyd <
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	Date: 	Thursday, 13 Jul 2006 14:54:56 EDT
	Subj: 	Re: SHK 17.0631 Against All-Male Productions

[3] 	From: 	Charles Weinstein <
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	Date: 	Thursday, 13 Jul 2006 19:35:16 -0400
	Subj: 	Against All-Male Productions


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From: 		Sam Small <
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Date: 		Thursday, 13 Jul 2006 19:04:01 +0100
Subject: 17.0659 Against All-Male Productions
Comment: 	Re: SHK 17.0659 Against All-Male Productions

I do support Charles on this question.  If men are to be cast a women - 
as many of the liberal imaginations on this list would have it - why not 
a teenager playing Lear?  No wait! Lets have a 70 year old woman play 
Juliet! Can we go one better?  A white Aaron?  A Chinese Othello?  Well, 
no. Because it would be commercial suicide.  Those sort of mental 
meanderings are begat by people who have never run a business and have 
no idea what popularity means.

SAM SMALL
(Ophelia look-alike)

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From: 		Bill Lloyd <
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Date: 		Thursday, 13 Jul 2006 14:54:56 EDT
Subject: 17.0631 Against All-Male Productions
Comment: 	Re: SHK 17.0631 Against All-Male Productions

 >A director mounts an originalist production of Othello.  He casts
 >men as Emilia, Desdemona and Bianca...

If a director wanted to mount a genuinely originalist production she or 
he would not cast men as Emilia, Desdemona and Bianca. He or she would 
cast teenage boys between the ages of 14 and 20, or since people mature 
earlier nowadays perhaps between the ages of 12 and 18. It would 
probably be difficult, but surely not impossible, to find teen actors of 
sufficient range to play the great (and not so great) Shakespearean 
women. The slimmer, rosier etc nature of these actors would no doubt 
reduce the 'drag' factor. Mark Rylance and others may or may not have 
made credible women-- I haven't seen any-- but they were not reproducing 
'original' conditions.

 >Another example appears if you grant that the same actor may have played
 >both Ophelia and the First Gravedigger in /Hamlet/; this doubling
 >repeats the potential heroine / comedian pairing of /Lear/

This doubling cannot be granted except in the imagination of a modern 
person. Ophelia would have been played by a teenage boy, whereas the 
Gravedigger would surely have been played by the company clown-- Kempe, 
Armin, Shanks or who have you. The Lear doubling referred to, presumably 
that of Cordelia and the Fool, would have been possible only if the 
teenage boy who played Cordelia also acted the Fool. No way Armin or any 
adult Fool played Cordelia, except in modern wishful thinking.

 >Then what was it that stopped the Elizabethans following the example of
 >the Italian and Spanish stages and allowing women to play?

Convention. Public opinion. People and conventions differ from place to 
place and time to time. Today in the UK you can see bare breasts in some 
daily papers; in the US one breast flash at halftime on TV causes an 
uproar. Go figure. According to a review I just read of *Women Players 
in England 1500-1660: Beyond the All-Male Stage" Italian Commedia 
troupes only began including women around 1560. In renaissance Spain 
actresses appeared on the public stage but women of good repute didn't 
go out in public unescorted; in renaissance England foreigners marveled 
at the freedoms accorded English women, but it was scandalous for one to 
appear on the public stage. I don't think there is a single reason that 
will satisfy our rage for logic.

Bill Lloyd

[3]-------------------------------------------------------------
From: 		Charles Weinstein <
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Date: 		Thursday, 13 Jul 2006 19:35:16 -0400
Subject: 	Against All-Male Productions

Those who are tempted to idealize Elizabethan all-male casting should 
remind themselves that it was an aesthetic restriction grounded on 
sexism and misogyny.  I think that Shakespeare was impatient of 
aesthetic restrictions, and I don't think that he was sexist or misogynist.

--Charles Weinstein

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