"A Woman's Part" The Performance of Cross-Dressing in Shakespearean Comedy

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Description: Examining three Shakespearean comedies that feature a female character that cross-dresses as a male and then interacts with the male character that becomes her husband, The Merchant of Venice , Twelfth Night , and As You Like It , this paper considers characters, actors, and audience in the context of performance. In Shakespeare's time and in our time, many have problematized the cross-dressing that occurs both in the texts and on the stage. Chiefly discussing the reflexive moments that call attention to the cross-dressed, or disguised, characters, this paper ultimately contends that an audience has no trouble with the theatrical convention of cross-dressing; in fact, they are continually aware of it and this is what produces the comedic moments of the play. That an audience can hold in unified tension awareness of actor, character, and disguised character is what creates the wonderful performative moments that exist in the live theatre of Shakespearean comedy.
Language: English
Format: Degree Work