Labor’s Lost, women’s Work and the Early Modern English Stage by Natasha Korda ’79. We all know that Juliet, Lady Macbeth and every female part in Shakespeare was played by a male actor in the time of Shakespeare. What were the women doing? Natasha explores the tasks in and about the theater that women performed, expanding our knowledge of how much woman’s ingenuity, and expertise contributed to the plays and to society at large. Who washed, starched and pressed all those elaborate ruffs? Obviously, the women. More than that, widows and unmarried woman were instrumental in the lending of money for interest, making capital available when direly needed. Natasha is thorough in her examination of women’s contributions. I was particularly fascinated by her analysis of The Merchant of Venice as Portia portrays the newfound power of a married woman having economic clout of her own, the analysis of the cries of street venders as they impact the theater (Hamlet’s instructions to the actors) and commerce, and the use of puppets in Ben Jonson’s Bartholomew Fair (of particular interest to me since I wrote my dissertation many years ago on the interplay of puppet theater and live theater in the twentieth century.)
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Sep 02, 2019