Wednesday, September 4, 2019

Boy-Actresses and the Character of Rosalind in As You Like It :: Shakespeare As You Like It Essays

Boy-Actresses and the Character of Rosalind in As You Like It      Ã‚  Ã‚  Ã‚   When Shakespeare wrote his plays, women were not permitted to perform on stage, so boys played all of the female characters.   Unlike many apprenticeships, a boy learning to become an actor had no set age at which to begin and no set length of how long to study, but they usually began around the age of ten and continued playing women or adolescent roles for about seven years.   These boys were apprenticed to a specific actor within an acting group, and were not attached to the organization as a whole.   There was a very strong teacher-pupil relationship between the adult actor and the boy, but there was also very often a father-son relationship.   The boys usually lived in the adult actors home with his family.   The idea of an apprentice is not difficult to imagine, but for many modern audiences, a boy playing the role of a women is very difficult to picture.   This picture is even more difficult to see when examining the plays of Shakespeare and the str ong female characters that he often depicts.   (Bentley 117)    In Shakespeare's As You Like It, Rosalind has many layers and acts as a character taking on many different roles.   The idea that there is a boy playing a woman disguised as a man pretending to be a woman for wooing, is one that is confusing and yet makes sense.   What adds to this is the idea that Rosalind, disguised as Ganymede, is pretending to be Rosalind, not another woman, but herself.   One can see that she occasionally slips from the role of Ganymede pretending, to being Rosalind, with comments such as "And I am your Rosalind" (Norton 4.1-56) and "By my life, she will do as I do" (Norton 4.1-135).   In these instances it is as though Rosalind forgets that she is disguised as a man, but what does this mean for the actor playing her character?   For one it shows that he must be clear as to which role of the character he was playing.   As one can imagine    "An audience would be confused unless the performer, regardless of gender, made it clear when Rosalind herself was speaking, when the character was speaking as Ganymede, and when Ganymede was the stereotyped 'Rosalind'"   (Shapiro 122).    This idea brings up the versatility that the boy must have had in order to play such a role.

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