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What’s Shocking about the Globe Theatre’s “Original Practices” All-Male Shakespeare?


Don’t Miss Twelfth Night at the Cameo Cinema on January 25 at 2 pm

The Globe Theatre’s acclaimed production of Twelfth Night raised eyebrows with its creative cross-dressing, but Original Practices means more than just men in wigs and heels. Meticulously recreating the clothing, music, dance and settings possible in the Globe Theatre of around 1601*, director Tim Carroll chose “looking back to go forwards.”

There is minimal scenery, and no amplification. The hand-stitched costumes are authentic, made of wool and cotton without zippers or Velcro. Performances are lit by candlelight — you’ll notice the actors occasionally dodging dripping hot wax! Lacking modern lighting effects, mood and scene changes are conveyed using music, all played on period instruments. Female actors were once forbidden to appear in theatres, yet as star Mark Rylance points out, playing the role of Countess Olivia four centuries ago would have been shocking for what is now a surprising reason: “It was probably more outrageous that a common man like you or I was playing an aristocrat, than if a common man like you and I was playing a woman,” he says.

*Fun Fact: Rylance’s Tony Award-winning performance was influenced by the Japanese Kabuki tradition, which originated in the same period: 1600-1610, as the English theatrical tradition.

Who’s Your Other Favorite Cross-Dresser? Tweet to @NapaShakes 08b2cf5c-459e-44b6-a360-322aaa4b591e


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