Download Early Modern Tragedy, Gender and Performance, 1984-2000: The by Roberta Barker PDF

By Roberta Barker

This ebook examines the illustration of gender in chosen fresh performances of early glossy tragedy. within the method, it elaborates a version of severely engaged spectatorship that might permit for the complexity and strength of such cultural productions, and indicates how encounters among modern actors and early glossy playtexts--often pushed aside as in basic terms conservative - can in reality support to discover the instability and historic contingency of gender norms earlier and current.

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Extra info for Early Modern Tragedy, Gender and Performance, 1984-2000: The Destined Livery

Sample text

Like Helen Mirren in the 1970 RSC Hamlet and Anastasia Vertinskaya in Grigori Kosintsev’s 1964 film, she defied that conventional image by appearing in mourning rather than in white. Her costume neither reflected nor pre-determined the nature of her insanity. Her elegant black gown matched those worn by the (sane) ladies of Gertrude’s retinue; thus, it allowed Barber’s Ophelia to remain a dignified and formidable member of the court around her, rather than a spectacle set apart (Figure 1). But it was Ophelia’s songs, so long associated with the wistful pathos of the role, that provided Barber with perhaps the most empowering moments of her interpretation.

More than any other playtext of its period, Hamlet on modern stages has become inextricably linked to the post-Stanislavskian realist acting that dominates Anglo-North-American theatre. Barber used this style in a bid to grant Ophelia the complexity and autonomy denied her by much of Hamlet’s stage history (and perhaps by the text of Hamlet itself). Illustrative of the liberal feminist energies that infused the RSC in the early to mid-1980s, Barber’s performance often reinscribed the very norms it tried to reject.

Given this restricted focus, my analysis inevitably treats only a small (and not necessarily representative) percentage of the vast range of performances of early modern tragedy to appear in the period in question. My selection of performance texts has been affected by my wish to explore differences and similarities between recent treatments of works by major early modern tragic dramatists. Most academic and popular criticism of early modern drama in contemporary performance is dominated by the much-performed and culturally influential works of William Shakespeare.

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