Shakespeare plus feminism : Shakespeare & Company's Tina Packer

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Miles, Linda Susan

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This study of feminist directing practice begins with a brief consideration of the history, structure, and scope of influence of the Lenox, MA producing organization Shakespeare & Company, and introduces Artistic Director Tina Packer as a company leader and theatre director who applies great strength and conviction to both of these roles. The group’s success has helped provide a steady platform for Packer’s expressions, onstage and off, of what she sees as the truth about the world, and this truth embodies, among other things, a complex feminist ideology. Consideration of the circulation within the discourse of contemporary Shakespeare criticism of ideas about Shakespeare, theatre, the world, and feminism, provides a basis for understanding Packer’s creative work. The second chapter provides analysis of the ways that Shakespeare & Company negotiates concepts of truth and human subjectivity— specifically the relationships between emotion, intellect, and physiology—negotiations that become apparent in examination of public discourse about company beliefs and practices. Building upon this understanding of the company’s approach to Shakespeare’s works, the third chapter focuses on the general nature and specific contours of Packer’s v complex feminist ideology, which is both theoretically sound and grounded in the real work that she does year in and year out. The final chapter is a study of three Shakespeare & Company productions of A Midsummer Night’s Dream, directed or co-directed by Packer in 1978, 1984, and 1993, illustrating changes in Packer’s approach and highlighting its growing complexity and legibility in production. What emerges from my examination of company beliefs and practices, Packer’s feminism, and these three productions, is a complex and textured reading of brazenness, audacity, and impudence.


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