Scholar

Feminism in the Field of Verse and Violence

October 19, 2018

For as long as I can remember, I’ve been a feminist. For as long as I can remember, I’ve loved William Shakespeare. As an artist and a woman, I often find myself thinking about the ways in which these two things can be in direct contrast. The drama of the early modern English stage is one that frequently stages verbal, physical, and sexual assault against women. As a company, Brave Spirits Theatre is interested in exploring the violent nature of these plays – it’s in our tagline: verse and violence. And yet our modern entertainment is full of examples of violence against women being glorified, sensationalized, or use as a shortcut for character development. I’m tired of watching movies and tv shows that use assault carelessly. So I’m often left asking myself: How do I (and how does Brave Spirits) present these plays that we are dedicated to in a responsible manner? What are we asking our audience to witness, and to what purpose? Read more ...

In Defense of Villainy

April 15, 2017

Constantin Stanisklavski’s system of acting and Sigmund Freud’s theories on psychology have had a transformative effect on performances in modern theatre and film. One tenet that has been born out of them is the oft-repeated idea that actors need to be their character’s best advocate. I’ve heard another version of this philosophy – that actors must like their character. But what does it even mean to like your character? Actors interpret this idea in a myriad of ways. Read more ...

 
Cleopatra and the Male Gaze

October 31, 2016

Woolly Mammoth’s recent production of Collective Rage: A Play in Five Boops made waves in the DC theatre community. In the play, as described by the company, “five different women named Betty collide at the intersection of anger, sex, and the ‘thea-tah.’ Award-winning playwright Jen Silverman’s absurdist romantic comedy is at once hysterical, inspired, and boldly uncompromising. When you’re done laughing, you’ll be ready to deliver a knockout blow to a thousand different well-worn tropes about female identity…and dare them all to say ‘Boop.’” This world premiere production was lauded by female critics in the blogosphere. Read more ...

Re-gendering Shakespeare's Verse

November 19, 2015

Brave Spirits begins every rehearsal period with an exploration of the play’s text and verse. Because of the primacy we give to language and meter, re-gendering a character, or an entire play, is much more complicated than simply switching pronouns. Kevin Finkelstein, the director, and I worked through the script before the cast ever saw it, having many discussions about what words meant and how to make changes while maintaining the verse form. Several changes we were able to make before rehearsals began, such as the easy flips between him and her and he and she. Many gendered moments in the script we marked to go over with the cast and dramaturg during tablework. Read more ...

Early Modern Theatrical Violence and The Bloody Banquet

August 17, 2015

I’ve long been fascinated by violence on the early modern stage, not just its prevalence, but its variety too. The Dictionary of Stage Directions, a resource recounting stage directions found in English plays from 1580-1642, notes over 380 fights, 180 kills, around 60 beatings, and about the same number of instances of pistols or dags. Around 30 plays are listed with a stage direction of stabbing. Several plays also including dragging characters in or out by their hair. It should also be noted that these example all come from extant plays; we’ve lost numerous scripts from the early modern theatre that would no doubt increase these numbers. Read more ...