This article examines student experiences of studying Shakespeare’s first tetralogy through viewing and writing about Seattle Shakespeare Company’s 2017 Bring Down the House, a successful two-part adaptation of Henry VI parts 1, 2, and 3 directed by Rosa Joshi and the upstart crow collective, a Seattle theater company dedicated to producing classical works with diverse all-female and nonbinary casts for contemporary audiences. Through reflection on students’ responses to the adaptation’s all-female cast, as well as the analytical work they produced for an upper-level course titled Shakespeare: Context and Theory, this article articulates the pedagogical value of students’ experiences of representation in live theater performances of Shakespeare. The author argues for both the ethical imperative of introducing students to radical, inclusively cast productions and the enlivened learning that emerges in the literature classroom from students’ creative and analytical engagements with the diverse voices of modern all-female and cross-gender cast Shakespearean performance.
Bringing Down the Bard’s House: Pedagogy, Representation, and the All-Female Cast
Allison Machlis Meyer is associate professor at Seattle University, where she teaches courses in the Department of English and University Honors on early modern literature, including a recent special topics course on local all- femme performances of Shakespeare. She has published work on gender and early modern historiography in Studies in Philology, Medieval and Renaissance Drama in England, Borrowers and Lenders: A Journal of Shakespeare and Appropriation, and in the edited collection Shakespeare / Not Shakespeare. She also has a monograph on early modern royal women in historiography and historical drama forthcoming from University of Nebraska Press. A second in- progress book project focuses on book building and the construction of religious difference in early modern Europe, a portion of which has recently been published in Renaissance Quarterly.
Allison Machlis Meyer; Bringing Down the Bard’s House: Pedagogy, Representation, and the All-Female Cast. Pedagogy 1 October 2020; 20 (3): 549–558. doi: https://doi.org/10.1215/15314200-8544603
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