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Home :: Archive :: 2006 :: July ::
Seattle All-Female Hamlet
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 17.0699  Friday, 28 July 2006

[1] 	From: 	Larry Weiss <
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	Date: 	Wednesday, 26 Jul 2006 12:14:23 -0400
	Subj: 	Re: SHK 17.0698 Seattle All-Female Hamlet

[2] 	From: 	Jeffrey Jordan <
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	Date: 	Wednesday, 26 Jul 2006 13:09:47 -0500
	Subj: 	Re: SHK 17.0698 Seattle All-Female Hamlet

[3] 	From: 	John Crowley <
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	Date: 	Friday, 28 Jul 2006 08:19:53 -0400
	Subj: 	All-Female Hamlet

[4] 	From: 	Sam Small <
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	Date: 	Thursday, 27 Jul 2006 15:13:34 +0100
	Subj: 	Subject: Re: SHK 17.0459 Seattle All-Female Hamlet


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From: 		Larry Weiss <
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Date: 		Wednesday, 26 Jul 2006 12:14:23 -0400
Subject: 17.0698 Seattle All-Female Hamlet
Comment: 	Re: SHK 17.0698 Seattle All-Female Hamlet

 >My thesis: Shakespeare is much abused in production today,
 >and messing with gender is one way it's done. Only one other
 >member seems to agree with me, and I agree with him: casting
 >women as men just doesn't work, especially not in lead roles.

I nearly agree with Bob Projansky and Charles Weinstein, but I see 
exceptions. Most cross-gender casting, like colorblind and other 
violently against type casting, is either a gimmick or a misguided 
attempt to appear socially liberal at the expense of the audience's 
willingness to suspend its disbelief-"Oh, really, the actor playing 
Romeo is an obese Nigerian woman?  I hadn't noticed."

There are exceptions, though, where the intention is not to be 
iconoclastic and the actor is skilled.  Tracey Ullman, of course, as Bob 
acknowledges, does it brilliantly.  Even an actor as feminine as Hillary 
Swank pulled it off.   And post-menopausal women who go easy on the 
estrogen can do it with ease.  I wasn't confused by Vanessa Redgrave's 
Prospero at the Globe a few years back.  Her performance was flat and 
uninspired, but I believed her as an elderly man.  (In fairness, 
Prospero is a notoriously difficult part; I have never seen it done well.)

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From: 		Jeffrey Jordan <
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 >
Date: 		Wednesday, 26 Jul 2006 13:09:47 -0500
Subject: 17.0698 Seattle All-Female Hamlet
Comment: 	Re: SHK 17.0698 Seattle All-Female Hamlet

Replying to Robert Projansky.

 >Someone sneered at my original post with
 >a "barefoot and pregnant" crack. ...

The misbegotten varlet 'twas I.  But the crack was more in the realm of 
plain old sarcasm.  You give me too much credit.  I'm so out of practice 
at sneering, I'd have to rehearse for a week to do a passable sneer.

And I do prefer Hamlet as a 16-year old fellow, so we do not essentially 
disagree on the gender preference.

 >... Is it
 >misogynistic to want to see WS's work
 >performed as he wrote it ...

Gender is the least of that, however.  Currently, it's a fantasy, sexual 
or otherwise, to want to see S's work as he wrote it.  Doesn't matter if 
it's woman or wo-less man if she/he is doing the wrong things.  No 
living person has seen ~Hamlet~ done as Shakespeare wrote it.  And 
probably never will, which is a real pity.

At the risk of trying the patience of all and sundry, and Hardy too, one 
brief observation on that issue, of what S wrote.  At the Mousetrap 
play, Ophelia says "the King rises."  Three little words, from the hand 
of S.  When Ophelia says that, three things are happening.

Claudius has risen, just before her line, and flees the room.  This is 
literally what she means.

The Ghost rises invisibly from the earth, or floor, as she speaks.   We 
know the Ghost rises at some point, since he appears in the Closet Scene 
not too long afterward.  The moment he rises is at Ophelia's line.  She 
doesn't know that.

Hamlet rises just after Ophelia speaks.  The Mousetrap audience has sat 
in confusion, and rises belatedly for Claudius.  However, the timing is 
such that it appears the audience rises for Hamlet.   Psychologically, 
the timing gives the effect of Ophelia announcing Hamlet as the King, 
who's rising, and everybody then rises for him.

That's how Shakespeare wrote it, for that small moment at Ophelia's 
little line.  It's exquisite.  Have you seen it done that way, by men or 
women, in any performance?

I could tell you about ~Hamlet~ for hours, the way Shakespeare wrote it, 
and you've never seen it.  Said the sneering varlet.

 >My thesis: Shakespeare is much abused in
 >production today, ...

Amen, brother.

[3]-------------------------------------------------------------
From: 		John Crowley <
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Date: 		Friday, 28 Jul 2006 08:19:53 -0400
Subject: 	All-Female Hamlet

I wonder if Bob Projansky has the same difficulty with black actors 
playing the sons or fathers of characters played by white actors.  Or is 
it just a male-female thing?  I admit it crosses my mind, but then again 
so does the fact that everybody on stage is playing somebody they 
aren't. In the productions I've seen where females play male parts I 
find myself forgetting the sex.  Maybe my posers of Suspension of 
Disbelief (which is more like Disregard of Disbelief) are higher than his.

[4]-------------------------------------------------------------
From: 		Sam Small <
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 >
Date: 		Thursday, 27 Jul 2006 15:13:34 +0100
Subject: SHK 17.0459 Seattle All-Female Hamlet
Comment: 	Subject: Re: SHK 17.0459 Seattle All-Female Hamlet

I really wanted to say all this but Robert Projansky said it all 
perfectly - and more.

Hurrah for common sense, intelligence and a profound respect for 
Shakespeare's work.

SAM SMALL

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