Shakespeare, William, 1564-1616. King Richard II [performance]
Warner, Deborah, 1959-, dir.
Shaw, Fiona, 1958-
Theater -- Casting -- England -- London.
This paper analyzes Deborah Warner's controversial 1995–1996 production of Richard II for London's National Theatre, with Irish actress Fiona Shaw in the title role. It explores how the voices of the director and her leading actress, of the highly divided popular press, and of Shakespeare and performance critics have created the many different bodies of Shaw's performance. Her Richard becomes, through these conflicting discourses, a "stereotypical girlie," a homosexual male, an adolescent boy, and a figure entirely devoid of gender identity. The article adds another voice to this mix, arguing that Shaw was androgynous, embodying a wide spectrum of gender identities and challenging the masculine / feminine binary. It insists on the importance of gender to the production, showing how Warner and Shaw asked the audience to read the actor's body as a dynamic dramatic text. The production also created a queer reading of Richard's relationship with Bolingbroke, intervening in the critical and performance tradition to present an androgynous alternative.
Doug Wright's play I Am My Own Wife (2003) made a commercial and critical Broadway smash out of the unlikeliest heroine: the dead, German, notoriously untrustworthy transvestite Charlotte von Mahlsdorf. After reviewing Charlotte's pre-Wife phenomenology, this article explores the dramaturgical techniques through which Wright kept mass audiences invested in the spectacle of a purportedly "real" protagonist whose life and persona were built upon detectable lies. Charlotte's hold over audiences has powerful resonance for our understanding of the nature of spectatorship, particularly the verisimilitude expected of, if only partially delivered by, the one-person biodrama.
Vaudeville -- Social aspects -- France -- History -- 19th century.
Popular culture -- France -- History -- 19th century.
Vaudeville was among the most popular theatrical genres of nineteenth-century France. Rooted in classic comedy (unlike British and American vaudeville), French vaudeville was a precursor to the modern television sitcom and was at the forefront of changes that remade theatre into a spectacular media product. Vaudevilles portrayed the pursuit of social status in satirical send-ups that suggested the ways in which consumption was becoming a vehicle for the performance of new forms of identity and social exchange. In its connection to consumer culture, vaudeville invites us to reconsider assumptions that have tended to inform our readings of bourgeois and popular culture.
Sheil, Richard Lalor, 1791-1851 -- Criticism and interpretation.
English drama (Tragedy) -- 19th century -- Political aspects.
Theater -- Political aspects -- England -- London -- History -- 19th century.
This essay focuses on Richard Lalor Sheil, one of the forgotten names in British and Anglo-Irish drama and theatre of the Romantic period, as crucial to an examination of the contaminated nature of the tragic on the Romantic stage. Written and performed between 1814 and 1819, his plays—Adelaide, The Apostate, Bellamira, and his greatest success, Evadne—combine Gothic and melodramatic features, Renaissance models, and Orientalist themes, together with references to topical political issues and ideological concerns. The intricacies of Irish and British politics after 1800 and the international developments in post-Napoleonic Europe leave visible traces in Sheil's dramaturgy, which, in turn, plays a central role in the emergence of liberally-inspired dramatic and theatrical practices on the London stage between the late first decade and the early second decade of the nineteenth century. As the hybrid qualities of these plays are keyed to specific political and ideological concerns, they offer an important contribution to our understanding of the discontinuities in Romantic-period tragic writing for current literary-historical reconstructions and critical debates.
Dance Theatre of Harlem's staging of its first full-length nineteenth-century ballet, Giselle, necessitated a direct encounter with ballet's iconic whiteness. By transplanting Giselle from its feudal Rhineland setting to the farms of antebellum Louisiana's free people of color, the new production strove to make ballet culturally "relevant" to African Americans while easing the charged conjunction of African American dancing body and European classical ballet technique. Taking its cue from the "Creole" of the Creole Giselle's unofficial title, this essay examines the hazards and opportunities presented by "hybridity" as a mode of racial and cultural negotiation. The Creole Giselle, through the racial coding of its dancers, made visible a paradoxical combination of subjection, remembrance, and virtuosic assertion in performance.
Living history museums differ from other institutions through their use of performance, yet they forfeit the potential of performance to engender a more dynamic and responsible mode of historiography. Alternative living history models that incorporate "second-person interpretation," in which the visitors pretend to be part of the past, may be more efficacious in achieving this potential. This article explores how second-person interpretation can go beyond simply letting visitors try crafts or chores, both to make curatorial decisions and agendas visible to spectators and to give spectators more agency in determining the trajectory of their encounter with history.