- Purchase/rental options available:
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.