July 14, 2018

Cobbe portrait of William Shakespeare

Cobbe portrait of William Shakespeare

Source: Wikimedia Commons

“It has never been spread out, yet,” said Mein Herr: “the farmers objected: they said it would cover the whole country, and shut out the sunlight! So we now use the country itself, as its own map, and I assure you it does nearly as well.”

It should by now be obvious that the only way to have a socially just stage would be to have everyone playing him- or herself. I would have said that Shakespeare got there first, when he wrote,

All the world’s a stage,
And all the men and women merely players…

were it not for at least three considerations:

First, the order of the words in the second line, even when we overlook its retrogressively binary nature, is quite wrong. It should read:

And all the women and men merely players…

Shakespeare needed a good editor.

Second, Shakespeare is overperformed, precisely (and only) because he was a man.

Third, his plays are grossly unbalanced as to sex. I open my Shakespeare at random, and what do I find? In the dramatis personae of King John there are only four named women’s parts to eighteen men’s, to say nothing of the unnamed parts such as heralds, sheriff, and executioners. Could anything be more blatantly unjust?

It is time to abandon Shakespeare.

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