Cusp This!

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

Tomorrow and tomorrow and tomorrow

I have an audition tomorrow to play Juliet. I am not a Juliet type. I’m more of a Kate in Taming of the Shrew type. I’m the kind of girl that makes it easy to laugh at her. It is rare I inspire soliloquies, but often I inspire one-liners. In the shower (where all my best thinking is done), I tried to imagine the kind of universe where I would play Juliet.

I didn’t write about it, but I saw the Globe Company’s production of Measure for Measure a few weeks ago at St. Anne’s Warehouse. I was also lucky enough to see them perform Twelfth Night at the Globe in London in 2003. Both productions were all male, and they are the best Shakespeare I have seen in my life. I have seen a lot of Shakespeare. I feel in love when my grandmother took me to the Utah Shakespearian Festival when I was six. If it weren’t for Shakespeare, I would never have pursued theater.

I have decided the reason these all-male productions were so amazing was because of the necessity for a ‘willing suspension of disbelief.’ When a man is playing Juliet, it doesn’t matter what 'she' looks like becuase Juliet, not the actor, is ideal. In all male productions, the player falls away and the character can be seen: the character who exists only in Shakespeare’s words. When you put a woman in that part, every man in the audience measures if he would be willing to die for her, every woman measures her to see if she believes a man would be willing to die for her. An actress has to be Juliet, not play Juliet. It matters on some unspoken level if she is blonde or brunette, depending on the individual audience member’s relationship to what he or she thinks an ideal woman should be. If it is a man in a wig, the color doesn’t matter because the wig is only there to play a woman, not be a woman.

I do not think all Shakespearian productions should be all-male (or I would never be able to be in one again). I do think however, that it is the only universe where only Shakespeare’s words matter, and the only universe where someone as un-Juliet as me, could be Juliet. Shakespeare could make me Juliet, nothing less.


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