Rapid Cross-Dressing

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EL237

To respond to a comment from Aja on my last Goodnight Desdemona blog, I looked up productions of the play. This is because I left my copy of the play in my car, and I wanted to find out exactly which male characters are played by women. We were discussing the multiple roles of the characters and how it was interesting to have women playing men (they went the other way too, though not as much), as it is the reverse of Elizabethan theater.

 However, from a drama standpoint, this multiple roles for characters (which seems necessary as it adds to the plot), can be pretty hectic for the actors. I hadn't thought of this until I noticed it in an otherwise positive review written by an actor, who pointed out an actor can spend much of the play out of breath.

I also found several lists of cast for upcoming (or at least they were when they were posted) productions of the play, in which DIFFERENT (often gender appropriate) actors play each character. To me this seems wrong. Not only is it altering the author's original intent for the work, but it actually affects the effect of the play. Without the automatic facial recognition, all of the sudden Proffessor Night is no longer Othello, Tybalt or Juliets nurse. While the astute observer may make some vague Night/Othello/Tybalt connection, by their character, his role as Juliet's nurse is lost, along with a good joke. I highly doubt even the most astute reader would make the Jill, ah Julie/Cyprus Soldier connection. Doing this may make the actor's lives easier, but it cuts away many of the threads connecting the fabric of Constance's fictional worlds to one another, and her reality.   

2 Comments

Melissa Schwenk said:

I agree with you, especially for this play. If the actors aren't played by the right gender then the whole play is thrown off because part of the joke is that Romeo, Juliet, and Constance are all pretending to be the other sex in some way or are unable to recognize who the actors/actresses are portraying.

Also, by looking at that link you gave, it stated that one of the flaws was that the play drug in some areas because of all the times Constance is talking to herself. I, personally, didn't think this play drug at all. I thought it was pretty interesting and action packed. Plus, I saw the great importance for such dialogue. If anything, there were parts that I was hoping were more enhanced.

DavidWilbanks Author Profile Page said:

I definately agree. I think that its a bit harder for plays to drag when read though. If a part is less interesting, I read faster, paying less attention to detail. You can't really do that when watching a play, the tempo is already set. I'd definately like to see this performed.

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