ERIC Number: ED248567
Record Type: RIE
Publication Date: 1984-Aug
Reference Count: 0
Shakespeare and the Feminist Actor.
The major problem with Shakespeare for the woman performer is that he treats women as the "Other." Therefore, his women characters lack the completeness of the men; the women become iconistic forces by means of which the men shape themselves, mirrors in which the men more or less accurately see themselves and their desires and fears. If one defines a feminist work of art as one that presents women as self-identified and expressive on many levels rather than male-identified, there is a serious problem for the woman performer approaching Shakespeare's plays. The picture becomes even more complicated if one begins considering that all the women's roles were originally written for boys and young men. Few women actors have the luxury of controlling the interpretation of their parts except in minor ways. The domination of the Man-as-Self atmosphere is further reinforced by the sheer numbers of men compared to women, in casts for Shakespearean plays as a whole. Even such strong characters as Desdemona and Isabella are defined, even created, by men (of the church, family, or state) and they finally act according to the men's rules because it is the men's game. Shakespeare is an important part of his Western heritage and he must be addressed. To dismiss his works out of hand as sexist is cavalier; but to label them as feminist, is also too slick and falsely comforting. (HOD)
Publication Type: Opinion Papers; Speeches/Meeting Papers
Education Level: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers: Shakespeare (William)
Note: Paper presented at the Annual Meeting of the American Theatre Association (San Francisco, CA, August 12-15, 1984).