Log in

No account? Create an account
13 March 2016 @ 11:36 am
why Emma Rice why  
This post no longer exists on the Shakespeare's Globe blog, so I don't know whether that means something in it was misreported, but here is the casting for Emma Rice's Midsummer this summer:

Assuming that this is accurate, when you get to the bottom of the original post, you see that one of the actors is playing Helenus. So…she took a strong female part and changed it to a male part, great job (as opposed to making either Demetrius or Lysander female; female Lysander might even make some sense, since Egeus is opposed to the marriage at the beginning of the play. It makes no less sense, anyway, than male Helena). But in doing that, she also took the character who is most obsessed with gender roles and made all of that nonsensical. I mean, I assume they'll just have to cut a third of Helena's part, since she's always talking about how men and women are supposed to behave, and very firmly casting herself on the side of female: no "Your wrongs do set a scandal on my sex"; no "The story shall be changed; / Apollo flies and Daphne holds the chase"; no "If you were men, as men you are in show, / You would not use a gentle lady so." You'd have to cut her whole speech to Hermia about their school days, since that whole thing is heavily gendered ("And will you rend our ancient love asunder / To join with men in scorning your poor friend?", "Our sex as well as I may chide you for it"). Even aside from that, the point of the speech is that the two of them are so similar as to be two cherries on a single stem; that makes far less sense if Helena becomes Helenus.

I mean, I don't want to have to create a "why Emma Rice why" tag, but this just continues the fact that everything I've heard about her thus far suggests someone who is tone-deaf about Shakespeare - which is a big problem at a place called Shakespeare's Globe. She just doesn't strike me - and again, I acknowledge that I have only a partial view of her at best so far - as someone who sees the Shakespearean text as having any value in itself, only in how you can "shake it up" and probably upset some purists or whatever. (Here I'm drawing on that comment she made about people who have devoted their lives to the preservation of Shakespeare, and how they hated her production of Cymbeline - the implication being that they hated it because they were hidebound conservatives who don't appreciate life and modernity and fun, as opposed to because they just really didn't like what she did with the play.) She doesn't seem to want to work with the texts instead of against them, I guess, which just makes it really weird that she wanted the job in the first place.
a_t_raina_t_rain on March 13th, 2016 10:07 pm (UTC)
WTF? I suspect this is going to mean I'm going to hate all Globe productions for the foreseeable future. At least the RSC seems to have taken up filming their productions and releasing them on DVD, so I still get my live Shakespeare fix.
tempestsarekind: globetempestsarekind on March 13th, 2016 10:19 pm (UTC)
I just hope she stays hands-off with Globe Education, because otherwise I will cry. And I'm still hoping that things will be better in practice than they sound so far in theory. But yes, thank heavens for the RSC! There is live Shakespeare in my neck of the woods, but not much good live Shakespeare, so I depend on overseas broadcasts/DVDs.