Since the early '90s, cross-gender casting in performance of Shakespeare's plays has become an increasingly common phenomenon. Such casting has involved not only men playing women's roles but also women playing men's roles, and both playing roles re-gendered for the opposite sex. Yet while scholars have debated endlessly the transgressive potential of boy actors on the Elizabethan stage, few have paid attention to the cultural implications of cross-dressed performances occurring on contemporary stages. The eleven essays in this groundbreaking volume seek to redress this imbalance.Examining recent performances through the lenses of feminism, queer theory, and cultural materialism, they situate cross-dressed Shakespeare in the context of current critical debates over the social construction of gender, the radical contingency of sexual desire, and differences among various forms and functions in transvestism. Essays discuss representative British and North American productions - some celebrated (Mabou Mines' Lear, the Globe's Twelfth Night), others little-known (Merchant in a women's prison). James C. Bulman, past president of the Shakespeare Association of America, holds the Henry B. and Patricia Bush Tippie Chair in English at Allegheny College.
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