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Studies in Elizabethan Audience Response to the Theatre

Part 2: As I Am Man. Aspects of the Presentation and Audience Perception of the Elizabethan Female Page


Henk Gras

The aim of this volume is to apply the findings of volume 1, the actor-character relationship in documentary evidence of Elizabethans, to a set of plays particularly teasing to the visual sense: the female page plays, in which a boy actor presents a female character in male disguise. The study concludes that such transformations were often intentionally deceiving. As a consequence, the homoerotic aspect deserves further consideration, which results in an analysis of the ways in which male sexual disguise and feminine men or boys were related in the power structure of Elizabethan society as expressed in (literary) texts. A detailed analysis of the individual plays points out where, when, and how authors used the device of the female page, distinguishing between the several theatres and groups in Elizabethan London.
Contents: The actor-character relationship in the Elizabethan viewers' mind - The female page plays (glancing also on the boy brides) - Homoerotic consequences of deceptive sexual disguise, relating to the Renaissance concept of sodomy.