The performance of gender with particular reference to the plays of Shakespeare
An analytical history of the representation of gender on the English stage from Shakespeare to modern times is followed by a detailed examination of the National Theatre of Great Britain's production of 'As You Like It' in 1967, the first production of a play by Shakespeare for over three hundred years in which the female parts were played by male actors. Subsequent cross-cast productions of Shakespeare's plays by Glasgow Citizen's Theatre, Prospect theatre Company, Lindsay Kemp, Theatre du Soleil and Goodman Theatre Chicago are discussed and the views of directors and critics of those productions analysed. The thesis then presents the results of a series of workshops with actors into the playing of gender and examines, by means of an experiment employing Gender Schema Theory, how actors construct gender in a production of 'Twelfth Night'. The final part of the thesis describes a controlled experiment into audience perception of gender using a scene from 'Hamlet'. Theories are presented about the nature of the performance of gender on stage and the use of theatrical conventions, the relationship between social conventions and stage conventions, about the way in which an actor builds a character, the influence of biological sex on actors' creativity, and about audience participation.