Shakespeare's Women: Under the Corset

Women’s History: Playing with Gender
By Simi Horwitz of BACKSTAGE
March 14, 2003

(an excerpt)
To what extent there’s a new woman-or, indeed, a new vision of women-represented onstage is perhaps up for grabs. Has political correctness died? Have old taboos given way to a new batch? ….

Playing With Gender

….For eight years, the Judith Shakespeare Company has been playing with gender in Shakespeare, in some cases turning male characters into women, other times creating a fully gender-reversed world. In their latest offering-Shakespeare Unplugged: The History Cycle” at the Jose Quintero Theatre-the company is experimenting with gender blind casting, although all the monarchs and pretenders to the throne are played by women.

In “Saturday Night Live” mode, “Shakespeare’s Women: Under the Corset” at the American Theatre of Actors takes an array of Shakespearean women out of the confines of their plays and gives them a forum to meet and share and vent-and, in at least one instance, a character finds a new playwright to write her story.

“Kate, from ‘Taming of the Shrew,’ for example decides that Shakespeare is not really telling her story right,” observes Jessica Lanius, creator of the project. “Instead she decides to end up in Ibsen’s ‘A Doll House.’

“The play is a behind-the-scenes look at these women, including Rosalind, Helena, Julia, Kate, Isabella, Ophelia, Juliet and Lady Macbeth,” continues Lanius “Each of these characters talks about who she is, her choices, what went wrong in her life, and what she’d like to happen next. These are eight separate stories that exemplify women’s journey through life. I add contemporary text and song.”….

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