Title

From Page to Stage: How Performance Illuminates Gender Dynamics in Shakespearean Plays

Lead Author Major

English

Format

Oral Presentation

Faculty Mentor Name

Courtney Lehmann

Faculty Mentor Department

English

Abstract/Artist Statement

Although there are elements of Shakespeare’s works that inarguably adhere to the expectations of the strictly patriarchal society in which he lived, other facets of his writing represent a remarkably progressive attitude toward gender dynamics. This is perhaps most evident in Twelfth Night, which intentionally breaches typical boundaries of class, erotic desire, and gendered behavior. By contrast, Much Ado About Nothing maintains more typical structures of gender roles and dynamics, yet it is distinctive in that Hero, an exemplary model of feminine behavior, is repeatedly punished in spite of her virtue, while her outspoken and independent cousin Beatrice is ultimately rewarded. However, in understanding theater as a literary genre it is important to note that performance can be as important as written text, if not more so. The novel theatrical interpretations of the Oregon Shakespeare Company are an ideal representation of the remarkable malleability of Shakespearean works, taking advantage of details such as casting, blocking, and delivery to illuminate dimensions of the text that may not be immediately discernible on paper. In 2014 the company staged a rendition of Two Gentlemen of Verona with an entirely female cast, and a few years prior Julius Caesar was cast as a woman. Though their 2015 performance of Much Ado About Nothing did not play so openly with cross-gender casting, it was remarkable in its ability to underscore gendered transgressions and to emphasize tensions that might be easily glossed over in written form. Similarly, their staging of Twelfth Night during the 2016 season highlights the potential fluidity of gender and brings homoerotic tensions to the forefront, emphasizing the intricate interrelationships between perceptions of gender and understandings of sexuality.

Location

DeRosa University Center, Room 211

Start Date

30-4-2016 1:00 PM

End Date

30-4-2016 3:00 PM

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Apr 30th, 1:00 PM Apr 30th, 3:00 PM

From Page to Stage: How Performance Illuminates Gender Dynamics in Shakespearean Plays

DeRosa University Center, Room 211

Although there are elements of Shakespeare’s works that inarguably adhere to the expectations of the strictly patriarchal society in which he lived, other facets of his writing represent a remarkably progressive attitude toward gender dynamics. This is perhaps most evident in Twelfth Night, which intentionally breaches typical boundaries of class, erotic desire, and gendered behavior. By contrast, Much Ado About Nothing maintains more typical structures of gender roles and dynamics, yet it is distinctive in that Hero, an exemplary model of feminine behavior, is repeatedly punished in spite of her virtue, while her outspoken and independent cousin Beatrice is ultimately rewarded. However, in understanding theater as a literary genre it is important to note that performance can be as important as written text, if not more so. The novel theatrical interpretations of the Oregon Shakespeare Company are an ideal representation of the remarkable malleability of Shakespearean works, taking advantage of details such as casting, blocking, and delivery to illuminate dimensions of the text that may not be immediately discernible on paper. In 2014 the company staged a rendition of Two Gentlemen of Verona with an entirely female cast, and a few years prior Julius Caesar was cast as a woman. Though their 2015 performance of Much Ado About Nothing did not play so openly with cross-gender casting, it was remarkable in its ability to underscore gendered transgressions and to emphasize tensions that might be easily glossed over in written form. Similarly, their staging of Twelfth Night during the 2016 season highlights the potential fluidity of gender and brings homoerotic tensions to the forefront, emphasizing the intricate interrelationships between perceptions of gender and understandings of sexuality.