Gender-Bending Shakespeare

Dear Liza,

Rusty Tennant as ‘Lady’ Jacques and Jacquelle David as Phebe

This is a post about gender. Gender means being a boy or a girl. For a long time, girls had to dress in ruffles and pink, they were supposed to like dolls and be afraid of spiders. Boys were supposed to dress and act a different way, like wearing jeans and boots and playing rough, and never showing their feelings.

Rusty Tennant again, as Touchstone, and Evan Tait as Audrey

Also for a long time, people thought you had to be a girl OR a boy. There was no neither, and no in between. Now there are. I have friends who have taught me about it, and plays like As You Like It help me see it more clearly.

Many people are saying we should be able to decide how we want to act and dress, no matter what gender we are born with. There are lots of words for this, but the one I used when I first learned about it was “gender-bending”.

Cat Miller as Rosalind, pretending to be Gannymede

I like this idea, and this word. I was always the girl in jeans and thirty feet up a tree, or under the car learning about engines. I wasn’t very good at being a ‘girl’.

Paul Bright as Duke Senior, admitting that he is fifty years old

This weekend we went to see As You Like It, a Shakespeare play, at Reed College. It is a play about gender, and gender-bending, and it was written 420 years ago! So you see, this gender thing isn’t new.

Alex Blesi as Orlando

The play was really interesting because in addition to Mr. Shakespeare’s gender bending characters falling in love, some of the actors who played men were played by women, and the other way ’round. You had to pay attention to keep things clear… but it was worth it!

Kate Cummings as Olive and Evan Tait, again, as Le Beu

The actors from the Portland Actor’s Ensemble are incredibly talented. As well as being great actors, they are comics, singers, boxers, and sword fighters. Many actors played two or three roles, sometimes switching costumes and roles while walking across the stage. It was a amazing to see. The staging was fun, too, with lots of making faces and playing with the audience.

Counting out the kinds of Courtly Lies

The basic story of the play is that some people from a noble castle are exiled to the forest, meet and fall in love with people there, then return home. There are three or four sets of people in love with other people, and it all gets confusing and funny. There are beautiful music, bad poetry, goats, speeches, and tantrums.

Sofia Molina as a tree, which has been hung with odes to Rosalind by the lovesick Orlando

It is all of human nature… but louder. I loved it.


Oh, yes…the goats sang, too!

Grandma Judy

Author: Judy

I am a new transplant to Portland from Salinas, a small city in Central California. This is a blog about my new city.

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