Each of the three films Shakespeare in Love, Stage Beauty and The Libertine shows a man coaching a woman to perform one of Shakespeare's tragic heroines. Each is depicting a practice we know very few details about, that is, preparation for performance in the early modern period, but more than that, each makes use of this process in the service of a narrative that links rehearsing Shakespeare to an erotic, but firmly heterosexual dynamic. While ostensibly embracing queer sexualities, taking the particular form of a man of some status openly showing sexual desire for a youth, each film concludes by reinforcing a strictly male - female erotic paradigm. This heteronormative orthodoxy is implicitly identified with both naturalistic acting and transformative theatrical greatness, using Shakespeare as the delivery mechanism. Naturalism is presented as straight, artifice as queer, and the latter is rightly rejected as the artist grows towards the sublime heights of the former. It is assumed that this is the template for a relationship that an audience will respond to, and can through it be prompted to share beliefs about the value of theatrical performance.


Shakespeare,Film,Rehearsal,Heteronormativity,Gender,Early modern,Sexuality


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pp. 27-41
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