Department of English Publications


Shakespeare’s Property Ladder: Women Directors and the Politics of Ownership

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Book Chapter

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Shakespeare ‘owners’ in the British cultural marketplace have long been the powerful male actors, artistic directors, and theatre reviewers who function as arbiters of ‘good’ acting, directing, and interpretation of Shakespeare. This chapter excavates the conservative political framework that has historically limited the experiences of women directing Shakespeare in the UK. How does an unspoken but deeply entrenched and gendered sense of who knows Shakespeare well enough to advocate on ‘His’ behalf determine what opportunities do, or do not, come women’s way? What does that powerful sense of knowledge and ownership reveal about the gendered expectations that still accrue to the work of women directors of Shakespeare? Is the landscape shifting, and if so how? What strategies might feminist directors such as Katie Mitchell use to make way for women’s engagement with Shakespeare on feminism’s own terms, and to build a critical consensus around the legitimacy of their work?


From The Oxford Handbook of Shakespeare and Performance. Ed. James C. Bulman. New York: Oxford UP, 2017.