Date Thesis Awarded
Honors Thesis -- Access Restricted On-Campus Only
Bachelors of Arts (BA)
Theatre, Speech & Dance
Dr. Laurie Wolf
As a female theatre practitioner looking ahead to her career, I found myself frustrated that nearly any role I could play in the classical theatre sphere would have been written by a man, to be played by a man. Though Shakespeare gives us Regan, Gertrude, Innogen, Margaret, Ophelia, Rosalind—beautifully nuanced and complicated female characters—he still only gives us 1 for every 9 men (Packer 2015, xiv). Even now in academia I learn about non-male to male playwrights at about the same ratio. Devastatingly, records of theatre history have largely excluded non-males from the story, and the legacies of exclusion left behind are perpetuated still (Case 1983, 534). The American Shakespeare Center’s (ASC) playwriting competition, seeking fresh companion pieces to works of Shakespeare, caught my attention. I imagined a piece that celebrated the role of women+ in the classical sphere, that prioritized female+ casting, and that carved a space for female+ characters to face gritty challenges with agency and strong voices. I willed this original play script into being, and it became Lady Tongue.
Guided by the research question, “How can women’s voices be amplified in the western classical theatre sphere?” I have endeavored to write this full-length play in conversation with Cymbeline for submission to the Shakespeare’s New Contemporaries (SNC) playwriting contest, hosted by Staunton, Virginia’s ASC. Secondary research into the world of women in Shakespeare shaped the first draft of Lady Tongue. This play reimagines the vilified, unnamed Queen of Shakespeare’s text and the women her story pivots around—all of whom are dead before Cymbeline begins. I questioned what about the world these women lived in made it impossible for them to survive. Primary research conducted by seeing live theatre and visual as study of art in tandem with the study of Elizabethan and Jacobean drama at the London Academy for Music and Dramatic Arts sculpted the further development of the piece, heavily influencing the editing process. After the play script’s submission to the SNC competition, a series of readings and feedback sessions culminated in a staged reading of the original play under my casting and direction to present the work to my educational and theatrical community.
This paper attempts to unwind the complexities and ambiguities of the creative writing process to support the quality and intentionality of Lady Tongue, following its genesis, the creation process, the influence of experiential research, the iterative revision process, and finally the future of the ply. The purposeful design of this project has yielded a play that enters the world of Cymbeline in its near mythic encounters, its teasing apart of Good and Evil, and its challenges of ‘what it means to be loyal’ that span family, nation, and faith. My play looks female characters in the eye and says earnestly, “I’m listening.”
Marksteiner, Sarah, "The Creation of Original Cymbeline Companion Piece Lady Tongue for Professional Submission: Increasing Opportunity for Women in the Classical Theatre Sphere" (2018). Undergraduate Honors Theses. William & Mary. Paper 1264.
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