Kirsten Wimberg Flordia State University: “What is to Love Unpossible?”: Gallathea, Casting, and Queer Joy
In her article “What is to Love Unpossible?”: Gallathea Casting, and Queer Joy, Kritsen Wimberg poses the question is there soemthing subversive in the cross gender casting of Gallathea. In the past five years productions of Gallathea have sprung up both online and in educational settings. This comes at a time that Anti-LGBTQ+ laws have been passed throughout the country, the casting of this play should be examined.
Wimberg discussed the Early Modern believe that a crossed dress actor could disrupt the patriarchy. In the original Early Modern productions of Gallaetha, a boys troupe would have produced the play. “The actor boy of the young man playing a woman becomes an nexus for the male and female gaze.” Wimberg states. She then goes on to discuss the scene where the two girls come to face the Gods Neptune and Diana, who are both opposed to the two girls love. In the face of this adversity, the two girls pronounce their love for each other. “The girls decision goes against the Gods themselves,” that is until Venus allows the girsl to be together by transforming one of them into a boy. The play creates ways in which the girls can circuvent the compulzive heterosexuality of their society, by giving them a way in which they can be together.
Wimberg reminds the audience that Anti-LGBTQ+ laws could impact the way in which we produce these plays: “Would a producation of Galeta, or Twelfth Night be considered adult entertainment.” While stating at the end that the stage was a place “Where Queer love and Queer joy are much needed”.
Mary Ruth Robinson, University of Virginia: Doubling Time in The Winter’s Tale
In her presentation “Doubling Time in The Winter’s Tale”, Mary Ruth Robinson explores the implications of doubling the character of Time with the character Paulina and poses the idea that doubling in this fashion may be on the rise. While the character of Time has typically been doubled with male characters, such as the Old Shepherd, Leontes, or Polixenes, Robinson calls to our attention the textual connections between Time and the witchy character of Paulina – particularly, that both voice resistance to authority and play an omniscient role, possessing knowledge that they should not. Time’s orchestrations of the sixteen-year time leap and Paulina’s orchestrations of Hermione’s return to life at the end of the play in particular highlight the similarities between these characters and point out how directors can use this doubling to centralize Paulina in the story and the feminine or gender-non-conforming nature of Time.
Dr. Ian Borden: Waist Not, Want Not: Does Shakespeare have a Waif Problem?
Dr. Ian Borden starts his paper by acknowledging that he co-wrote this with his wife who could not be here today. Their work focused on the lacki of representation in the ingeune roles, focusing on Juliet for today’s paper. In his paper “Waist Not, Want Not: Does Shakespeare have a Waif Problem?” Borden highlights the idea that in casting rooms Juliet and other ingunes have been placed in a white and slim category when casting. In classrooms across the country, students do not see themselves in the movies that they are watching. Borden cites Franco Zeffirelli’s 1968 film and Baz Luhrmann’s 1996 film, both of the Juliets are white and slender. Borden shares an antidote that Zeffirelli originally did not cast Olivia Hussey because he believed that she was overweight.
Borden then goes on to share statistics that were gathered from theatre goers. These statistics illuminated the idea that theatre goers are more concerned with a Juleit that they can hear and understands the Shakespearean text. The things that they were least concerned with were their race and their weight. To close out his paper, Borden stated: “If Shakespeare is for everybody let’s make Shakespeare for every body.”
James Keegan, University of Delaware: Mister Master: A Season of Playing White Supremacy on the Blackfriars Stage
James Keegan took us on a journey through his experience on the Blackfriars Stage at the American Shakespeare Center during a period in which he played a variety of privileged white characters. The role of his characters alongside a few other actors who performed across multiple productions that season foregrounded the themes of racism and anti-colonialism in these productions. While his paper as a whole tackles the effect of a few of these actors being cast across shows, Keegan focused his presentation on their production of The Tempest, using Mary Baldwin University students and current ASC actors to demonstrate some of the staging choices made to highlight racial dynamics. In particular, Keegan showed how having diverse bodies on stage changes the story by staging the scene in which the Ship Captain, who was played by a black actor in the original production and in his reproduction of the scene today, intervenes in the degradation of Caliban. This extra-textual subversion gave the captain a voice on stage by blowing a whistle to interrupt and protest what was happening, challenging the privileged right of the white actors speaking despite the captain himself having no lines in the text.
Kaitlin Nabors University of Colorado at Boulder: Two Second-Graders of Verona: Using Shakespeare’s Plays to Activate Social-Emotional Learning Benchmarks
Kaitlin Nabors discusses the use of Shakespeare to help strenghtens the Social Emotional Learning (SEL) in children around the K-2 grade age group. Nabors poses that introducing Shakespeare to children in this age group allows for them to strengthen their collabortiation, problem solving, enitiative, and compassion skills. She acknowledges that this benemark educational standard has created some controversy in states like Florida and Utah. However, this learning benchmark does not replace other benemarks for this age group.
Nabors then goes on to share anecdotes from her time running the Colorado Shakespeare Festival’s summer camp for this age group. She found that when students focused on their characters and discussed their characters and what they would do in their place, the students had created empathy and problem solving skills. Sharing that the students would ask “Why did Proteus hurt his friend Valentine”, when working on The Two Gentlemen of Verona. She then shared the “My body my rules” mantra where students can take charage of what their characters would like to do and what happens when thye change their minds or do not want to have touch in their scene that day. Nabors ends her talk by sharing some moments from their Much Ado About Nothing camp. The studnet playing Benedick had some trouble learning lines, they asked the TA for help. The TA asked how can I help and the studnet said “Benedick needs a horse, so if I forget my lines it just looks like Benedick is talking to his horse.”