Alexa Alice Joubin deposited Plenary: “Are There Transgender Characters in Shakespeare?” Blackfriars Conference, American Shakespeare Center, Staunton, Virginia, November 4, 2023. in the group GS Drama and Performance on MLA Commons 3 months, 1 week ago
Video recording of Alexa Alice Joubin’s plenary is available on YouTube, https://youtu.be/8P5nNv86goQ There are certainly non-binary actors on stage, but are there Shakespearean characters who can be read as trans? The answer is yes. To ask whether there are transgender characters is to ask questions about the performance of gender roles. We are also asking questions about the articulation of gender in early modern and modern times. All utterances retain a level of openness, because meanings emerge contextually over time in drama. There are many transgender characters historically, but their presence is not seen or acknowledged. There is a literal-minded cultural tendency to seek false clarity. We should suspend cisgender sexism rather than engage in suspension of disbelief regarding gender crossings. Shakespearean theatre is trans theatre. But current legislation criminalizes transgender people and performance. These anti-trans attitudes endanger classical and Shakespearean theatre, which is why high-school drama programs are withering and theatre festivals are shrinking.