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Home :: Archive :: 2006 :: July ::
Against All-Male Productions
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 17.0671  Tuesday, 18 July 2006

[1] 	From: 	Cary Dean Barney <
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	Date: 	Friday, 14 Jul 2006 16:26:53 +0200
	Subj: 	Re: SHK 17.0665 Against All-Male Productions

[2] 	From: 	Larry Weiss <
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	Date: 	Friday, 14 Jul 2006 12:55:53 -0400
	Subj: 	Re: SHK 17.0665 Against All-Male Productions

[3] 	From: 	Paul Hebron <
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	Date: 	Friday, 14 Jul 2006 12:59:01 -0500
	Subj: 	Against All Male Productions.....

[4] 	From: 	Gabriel Egan <
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	Date: 	Friday, 14 Jul 2006 06:30:19 +0100
	Subj: 	Re: SHK 17.0651 Against All-Male Productions

[5] 	From: 	Brian Willis <
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	Date: 	Saturday, 15 Jul 2006 06:57:22 -0700 (PDT)
	Subj: 	Re: SHK 17.0665 Against All-Male Productions

[6] 	From: 	Charles Weinstein <
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	Date: 	Saturday, 15 Jul 2006 10:53:38 -0400
	Subj: 	Against All-Male Productions

[7] 	From: 	Peter Farey <
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	Date: 	Sunday, 16 Jul 2006 11:04:21 +0100
	Subj: 	Re: SHK 17.0665 Against All-Male Productions

[8] 	From: 	Aaron Azlant <
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	Date: 	Sunday, 16 Jul 2006 12:48:56 -0700
	Subj: 	Re: SHK 17.0665 Against All-Male Productions


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From: 		Cary Dean Barney <
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Date: 		Friday, 14 Jul 2006 16:26:53 +0200
Subject: 17.0665 Against All-Male Productions
Comment: 	Re: SHK 17.0665 Against All-Male Productions

Did anybody see the RSC Academy "Lear" a few years back with Nonso 
Anonzie (then 25) as Lear?  Right at the start we were confronted with a 
black Lear with three white daughters.  The director, Declan Donellan, 
was throwing down a gauntlet: suspend disbelief or die.  And the 
audience bought it, thanks to the raw power of the acting.  It's how the 
characters behaved toward each other that made them family, not their 
appearance.  It's the words that make Lear old, not the actor's body. 
The same principle can work in gender bending, and the audience can tell 
the difference between playing it straight and camping it up.

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From: 		Larry Weiss <
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Date: 		Friday, 14 Jul 2006 12:55:53 -0400
Subject: 17.0665 Against All-Male Productions
Comment: 	Re: SHK 17.0665 Against All-Male Productions

It seems to me that it is occasionally worthwhile to use all male 
casting as a laboratory attempt to recreate original production 
conditions.  But such a production should also attempt as much as 
possible to reproduce original staging, costumes, lighting conditions, 
likely doubling, theatrical conventions and even pronunciation.  The 
more the production verges away from Elizabethan/Jacobean conditions, 
the less all male casting is legitimate.  It ceases to be an experiment 
and becomes a gimmick.

Of course, it is possible for a particularly gifted (if that is the 
right word) female impersonator to carry a woman's part in a modern 
production.  Ru-Paul, for example, would probably make a creditable Iras 
or Charmian; I would not notice his maleness.  But in cases where the 
masculinity of the actor comes through, I tend to agree with Charles. 
When I saw Mark Rylance play Cleopatra and Olivia I was as impressed as 
most of the reviewers.  But I found myself constantly evaluating the 
performances in terms of how well Mark carried it off -- like the 
elephant balancing on a ball, it was not so remarkable for its grace but 
that it could be done at all.

Similar observations can be made about other idiosyncratic casting.  As 
I have said before, to less than universal concurrence, a fat bald 
bearded man with a limp can't play Juliet.  "Colorblind" casting is just 
another example of the same thing.  Contrast the Olivier and Patrick 
Stewart Othellos:  Olivier was believably made up as a black man, to the 
palms of his hands; Stewart played a white black man.  The former was 
drama; the latter a travesty.

Political correctness or a desire to spread the work around is no excuse 
for revising Shakespeare's plays into something else.  If you want to 
use the plays as a jumping off place for a modern reconfiguration, 

 

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