CAP: dramaturgy

OK, last week, I talked a little about the brainstorming I’ve been doing re: possible thesis topics. And of course Shakespeare is in the forefront.

Yesterday, I was focusing on the concept of present (as opposed to absent) mothers, particularly in the Roman plays.

Saturday, we went to Xel-Ha outside of Cancun, and during some down time, as I nursed my sunburn in a hammock in the shade, I got to thinking about a more dramaturgical approach.

More and more theater companies are looking to do more gender-balanced casting in their Shakespeare plays. But what about switching the gender of the characters themselves (in other words, I’m not talking here about the Divine Sarah playing Hamlet, but playing Hamlet as a woman). I’m wondering what the effects of gender-switching the characters has on the thematic elements of the plays.

What are the ripple effects of a single gender switch? Is there a limit?

I’m not looking at gender-blind casting or casting for casting’s sake… I mean thematically specific casting. Something along the lines of a female Titus…one gender switch that could then throw a new light on the play, as it now becomes about two mothers, protective, vindictive, women with agency.

How does sex (biology), gender (identity, usually seen as performative), and sexual orientation interrelate into this equation?

I’ve been loving looking at the New Oxford Shakespeare, which has a wonderful discussion before each play as to which roles can be played by the same actor as another role, using as their criteria the timing between the entrances and exits of characters. In the same way (like apples and oranges are both fruits but totally different ones), I’d love to do a discussion on the implications of gender-switching characters.

Of course, I couldn’t do the entire canon…maybe focus on a genre… maybe the Romances (limited in number) or the major Tragedies?

But as this needs to be research-based, what would I be researching?

UPDATE: Kyle just gave me a great idea. The research could be talking to directors who have done gender-switches, and what thematic issues were created and found and solved…

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