Abstract

The Citizens Theatre of Glasgow (or Citz) has captivated audiences with its cross-gender cast productions of Shakespeare’s plays; however in the early 1970s, when it was developing its signature performance style, critical response was frequently hostile and homophobic. The “Citz’ style” of Shakespeare includes young actors, recurrent cross-dressing, outrageous actions, frequent nudity, raw sexuality, irreverent tone, frenetic energy, and a camp sensibility. Such a style of performance is appreciably contingent on its appropriation of aspects of gay male culture; although the Citz’ did not consider its work self-referentially “queer,” in examining the company’s 1972 cross-dressed production of Antony and Cleopatra it becomes evident that the signifier applies. I argue that the Citz alludes to several social and historical queer referents: including Shakespeare as a gay icon, gay cultural practices, and gay commodification. These signifiers function concurrently and undergo a process of appropriation and rebranding by the Citz, which then recycles the referents as part of its aforementioned house style. My argument relies on review discourse and a few photographs from the Scottish Theatre archive, taken alongside a consideration of gay culture and queer theatre in the early 1970s. In offering my analysis, I queer the Citz in retrospect, bringing Shakespeare scholars and historians of queer theatre into conversation and intellectual collaboration, and begin to offer a history of queer Shakespeare in the present (and recent past).

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Additional Information

ISSN
1931-1427
Print ISSN
0748-2558
Pages
pp. 245-271
Launched on MUSE
2015-06-15
Open Access
No
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