The Routledge Reader in Gender and Performance

The Routledge Reader in Gender and Performance

The Routledge Reader in Gender and Performance

The Routledge Reader in Gender and Performance

Synopsis

The Routledge Reader in Gender and Performance presents the most influential and widely-known, critical work on gender and performing arts, together with exciting and provocative new writings. It provides systematically arranged articles to guide the reader from topic to topic, and specially linked articles by scholars and teachers to explain key issues and put the extracts in context. This comprehensive volume:* reviews women's contributions to theatre history* includes contributions from many of the top academics in this discipline* examines how theatre has represented women over the centuries* introduces readers to major theoretical approaches and more complex questions about gender, the body and cross-dressing* offers an international perspective, including material from post-apartheid South Africa and post-communist Russia.

Excerpt

In 1995, I started to play Richard II in a to play Richard II in a production directed by Deborah Warner at the National Theatre, and wandered into the labyrinth of theatre and gender. I had no idea then how great the taboo was that I was breaking. Being female and Irish, I thought that there were no rules in the world of imagination. But of course there are other rules. The rules of cultural history, the rules of expectation and the rules of timing.

Before I go further, I suppose I should justify my choice. In many ways I was not looking for this role; it found me. I was merely looking for a performance piece to reply to my earlier work with Deborah. We had already investigated the Greeks and Ibsen and Beckett and the time seemed right to have a look at Shakespeare. I had played a lot of the heroines in Shakespeare and so found it hard without repetition to find a new character built in verse. For a long time, Hamlet had been proposed and I had always resisted this temptation, fearing that it would be insipid as I believe the passionate access of this play lay in the relationship between mother and son and boyfriend and girlfriend. I didn’t think a woman could bring anything to this role of male consciousness. But of all the roles in Shakespeare that seem to bypass gender, Richard II kept recurring. A creature beyond gender, Richard’s language in the play is unhampered by sexual passion and his affections seem both cousinly and more often than not self-absorbed. He seemed a good subject to investigate as the Zeitgeist led us all towards gender.

Shakespeare’s theatre seems to work in opposites, and we were falling into an old tradition of Shakespeare’s invention—the reversal of gender— . . .

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