Thursday, April 07, 2005

Sexual Politics

On Saturday I was keen to highlight how in this production I want to emphasise the sexual ambiguity and sexual confusion prevalent within both the text and indeed subtext. As mentioned in the discussion at the end of the rehearsal the challenge is to get the tone and the 'overtness' of this right. There is a very thin line to be trod especially when appealing to a family and schools audience base, however I do want to extrapolate a little on the juxtaposition between the clear gender differentiaition evident in the Edwardian context with the ambiguity Shakespeare provokes in terms of the lovers. It should be noted that the Edwardians were a society in which gender differentiation was at its greatest, women were considered delicate, sensitive and decorative creatures reliant on men in their jackets and waistcoats to protect them. It is the personification of the Princess in distress archetype, and it this repressive society that enables the freedom that Viola- and to a degree Olivia- discover so brazenly when their gowns and veils are ripped from them. The 'up in the air' twelth night feeling that will help dictate the tone of the production must be seen as being directly caused by the context in which our characters are placed. To use an analogy it is perhaps akin to an 'own clothes' day at school where you feel somehow freed- and able to do things you would not do when in uniform.

Yet couple this with an emotion as over powering as Love and the stage is braced for a series of moments which defy logic and reason and further more defy expectations. Too many Twelfth Nights give audiences exactly what they are expecting- Twelfth Night has become to a degree a tradition in its own right- like Christmas which I suppose is both to be expected and yet at at the same time rather ironic seeing as Twelfth Night itself is the undoing of tradition.
I suppose my aim for this production above all is to undo this tradition and engage our audience in the action and the lives of our characters, to lift them and to move them, to make them laugh and above all to excite them. For when they watch this production, they are themselves taking part in Twelfth Night, they are as much a part of the action as the actors, to this extent they are implicated in the fate of Malvolio and the reflecxivity of disguise goes full circle. As Feste brings us back to earth with a hey ho the wind and the rain, I hope people will walk out embued with that loathsome feeling of returning to the real world after a vacaction- for in the two and a half hours they are with us- they will be party and witness to a most memorable twelfth night - at least that is to what we must aspire!

after all the rain- it raineth every day


Blogger Angelo said...

Excelent, I know for me this clears up any ideas/concepts that were thrown out on the table on Saturday that I was still unclear about. Looking foward to more posts like this one.

12 April 2005 at 21:21  
Blogger pauljosling said...

When you talk of ambiguity it reminds me of the observation that if Malvolio is played darkly then he is the only character who' ends unhappier than he starts'.Light?If he is played farcically :'so his discomfiture is a cathartic happy ending for everyone else'.'The ambiguity of the part mirrors the ambiguity of the play.'
In terms of sexual politics the emphasis should be on the spirit as opposed to materialism but it sure is difficult if you love someone and you are their complete social inferior.That is why we need things like Twelfth Night ,Carnival and Topsy Turvy to ease the tensions of an otherwise daily grind.The inhabitants of this play seem half way there already to Shakespeares own dreamland where moral attributes are weighed as equally as social standing but at the end of the day the actors vanish and the party's over and it's back to the real world.It sounds just like being in love.It is something we all feel and the memory of it is essential when acting this play.Everyone knows about hopeless love too,surely.Orsino is maybe seen as a classic Shakespearian mouthpiece for such lovers.Even someone as grand and as steady as Malvolio secretly seeths with desire and impossible fantasies:what is it someone said 'something happens to your brain when you're in love'?It is one of the most unusual aspects of human kind but these strong feelings if taken to their logical conclusion can become comic and it is this bone wich Shakespeare is tickling.

19 May 2005 at 14:44  
Blogger pauljosling said...

I said comic but perhaps I meant 'sad -happy'.

19 May 2005 at 14:47  

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