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Taking as its starting point the 400th anniversary of the deaths of the great early modern actors Richard Burbage and Nathan Field, this workshop explores through short papers, performance workshops and round-table discussion the dynamics of playing in the late sixteenth and early seventeenth centuries, and the implications of expanding our knowledge of early modern practices for the present day.
Participants included Lucy Munro (King’s College London), Harry McCarthy (University of Exeter), Peter Cockett (McMaster University), Melinda Gough (McMaster University), Clare McManus (University of Roehampton) and Dolphin’s Back.
Casting women in men’s roles may seem like a radical innovation of our times, but playing with gender was an exciting feature of early modern theatre practice across Europe. Professor Clare McManus and Professor Lucy Munro help us to discover the history of gendered performance on the Renaissance stage.
This roundtable considered how portrayals of gender in early modern performance resonate with today’s opening up of the gender spectrum to a non-binary paradigm. Specifically, discussants shared findings arising from a recent five-day Performance as Research workshop at the Stratford Festival centered in collaboration between academics and theatre practitioners. The roundtable asked: how might collaborative work of this kind stimulate a cultural rethink of the engendering processes of the early modern stage while also supporting increasingly open approaches to gender in the contemporary professional theatre industry?