Early Modern Tragedy, Gender and Performance, 1984–2000: The by Roberta Barker

By Roberta Barker

Utilizing 9 contemporary theatrical and cinematic productions as case experiences, it considers the efficient contradictions and tensions that take place while modern actors practice the gender norms of past cultures. will probably be of curiosity to theatre practitioners in addition to to scholars of early glossy drama, of functionality, and of gender experiences.

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Extra resources for Early Modern Tragedy, Gender and Performance, 1984–2000: The Destined Livery

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Ron Daniels, Royal Shakespeare Theatre, 1984. 13–4). Like her earlier soliloquy, this song seems to focus attention on a male figure (the lost beloved) at the expense of Ophelia herself. Moreover, as Roger Warren points out, any Ophelia has to cope with the fact that representations of madness often distract and alienate the audience’s attention from the mad character’s discourse (‘Folio Omission’ 47). In Daniels’ production, Barber’s considerable vocal talents worked against this effect. Planting herself upstage centre, she seemed to have regained some of her earlier self-possession.

But it was Ophelia’s songs, so long associated with the wistful pathos of the role, that provided Barber with perhaps the most empowering moments of her interpretation. ’ 42 Realism and Reinscription Figure 1 Ophelia in black. Left to right: Cathy Tyson (Lady-in-Waiting), Frances Barber (Ophelia), Sarah Woodward (Lady-in-Waiting), Brian Blessed (Claudius) and Virginia McKenna (Gertrude) in Hamlet, dir. Ron Daniels, Royal Shakespeare Theatre, 1984. 13–4). Like her earlier soliloquy, this song seems to focus attention on a male figure (the lost beloved) at the expense of Ophelia herself.

It hardly looked a likely breeding-ground for a feminist reading of Ophelia; but Frances Barber’s essay on her performance, which appears in the second volume of Jackson and Smallwood’s Players of Shakespeare, claims that it was. ’ Barber writes, I emphasized the ‘I’, causing the director to groan each time the scene was played. I was desperate to indicate that the only reason she had agreed to participate in the encounter set up by Polonius was to help Hamlet, hence I wish it may reassemble his wandering mind, as well as the queen.

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