Re-dressing the Canon: Essays on Theatre and Gender by Alisa Solomon

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By Alisa Solomon

Re-Dressing the Canon examines the connection among gender and function in a chain of essays which mix the critique of particular dwell performances with an astute theoretical research. Alisa Solomon discusses either canonical texts and modern productions in a full of life jargon-free sort. one of the dramatic texts thought of are these of Aristophanes, Ibsen, Yiddish theatre, Mabou Mines, Deborah Warner, Shakespeare, Brecht, break up Britches, Ridiculous Theatre, and Tony Kushner. Bringing to undergo theories of 'gender performativity' upon theatrical occasions, the writer explores: * the 'double conceal' of cross-dressed boy-actresses * how gender pertains to style (particularly in Ibsens' realism) * how canonical theatre represented gender in methods which continue conventional pictures of masculinity and femininity.

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And as that fact contradicts what we see (or at least what we know), the language must be emphatic. Just as there are no redgelled Leko lights gradually brightening to demonstrate how “the morn in russet mantle clad/walks oe’r the dew of yon high eastward hill” (Hamlet I, i, 171–172), Ganymede’s identity as Rosalind (or, for that matter, any actor’s identity as any character) exists in the space of the imagination where word and image collide, sometimes in contradiction, sometimes in collusion, and often both at once.

Tensions between social disruption and social integration are dialectical, all the more so SHAKESPEARE’S CROSSED-DRESSED BOY-ACTRESSES 35 when represented on stage. Regardless of the heterosexual comic closure at the ends of such plays, denouements aren’t delivered up—or received—as incontrovertible summations; what counts is the experience of a play over time, and that experience may by turns challenge, reinforce, contradict, or throw into confusion the tidy untanglings that restore wife or daughter to husband or father’s charge.

Watching Lester deliver the epilogue, I was reminded of contemporary gay male performers—Tim Miller, Jeff Weiss—whose work often seems pitched to a gay male spectator, but that still reaches me with a taboo-smashing promise of erotic variety and sexual adventure. Conversely, I thought of productions at New York’s lesbian theater, the WOW Cafe, where a lesbian spectator is constructed because she is assumed. ) Like some of these works, Donnellan’s As You Like It felt exhilarating, even liberating, despite my exclusion from one of its most high-voltage currents.

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