Abstract

Abstract:

Queerness, especially in performance, can be covert, unwritten, ephemeral. And yet it is legible to certain audiences and readers, some of the time. Drawing on the concepts of the ephemera and residue of queer and camp performance articulated by Jos. Mu.oz, this essay argues that certain boy actors who performed important female roles on the early modern stage later carried a "queer residue" with them into their adult careers, often performing trans feminine, androgynous, or otherwise queer "men's" roles that carried their gendered performance history into new plays. Young boy actors have long been at the center of discussions about male-male attraction and androgyny, but evidence from adult casting shows that some boy actors in early modern England were especially nonbinary, and that they did not always grow out of these trans genders. Using the careers of Richard Sharpe, Richard Robinson, and Edward Kynaston as case studies, this essay finds evidence that their on-and off-stage personas informed the queer performances they staged throughout their careers. More than just claiming any particular individuals as trans ancestors, these case studies offer a method for reading theater history with a deeper recognition of the lingering ephemeral residue of queer personas, performances, and pleasures that inform that history.

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Additional Information

ISSN
1553-3786
Print ISSN
1531-0485
Pages
pp. 242-264
Launched on MUSE
2020-09-24
Open Access
No
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