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Title: Casting and the construction of gender in contemporary stagings of Shakepeare's plays
Author: Reimers, Sara
ISNI:       0000 0004 8499 9287
Awarding Body: Royal Holloway, University of London
Current Institution: Royal Holloway, University of London
Date of Award: 2017
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This thesis argues that close scrutiny of the outcome of casting decisions, and the material conditions in which those decisions are made, is essential to any interrogation of gender in performance. I contend that casting is central to the construction of theatrical meaning and that it has ramifications far beyond the individual theatrical event. Taking contemporary stagings of Shakespeare's plays as its focus, this study investigates the way in which gender difference is constructed through the embodied characteristics of performers and how this contributes to the depiction of femininity in contemporary Shakespearean performance. My study is divided into three parts. The first section locates casting within a theoretical and practical context: I begin by identifying a number of theoretical perspectives through which the act of casting might be viewed and then offer a materialist examination of the process of casting plays in contemporary performance. I conclude this first section with a statistical analysis of the gender ratios of casts at the Royal Shakespeare Company and Shakespeare's Globe Theatre. The second section offers three case studies of 'traditional' casting practices in recent stagings of Shakespeare's early comedies. These case studies foreground the way in which actors' embodied characteristics are used to construct gender in performance. Finally, the third section explores non-traditional casting approaches. Beginning with an examination of the ways in which single-sex casting might be seen both to destabilise and rearticulate normative notions of gender, I then envisage how a conscious engaging with certain embodied characteristics might facilitate a radical revisioning of femininity and masculinity in performance. In doing so, I aim to challenge the sexism enshrined in contemporary performance practice and offer a new approach, that destabilises the conventional construction of femininity in stagings of Shakespeare's plays.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Shakespeare ; gender ; casting ; theatre