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Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Ariel in "The Tempest"

As I watched the performance of Shakespeare's "The Tempest," the portrayal of Ariel was what stood out most to me. Played by Jamie Blue, the way he moved about onstage and delivered his lines was very intriguing. It made me think about the conventions of gender and its rigid classifications. Ariel is this spirit of the island controlled by Prospero and employed to further his plot during the course of the play. The costume that Blue wears to elicit the idea of him being a spirit is interesting as well, as any signifier of gender was absent. No hair was visible, so it would be impossible to decipher whether Ariel was male or female based on hair length or style. The attire comprised of a full body suit with some blue and green decorations about it, so neither the suit or the decorations could be used in identifying the gender of the character. In the dialogue, Ariel was only ever referred to by name or as a spirit.
Blue's performance, as well, transcends a specific categorization in terms of gender. Blue's movements onstage were dance-like and almost sexual in the way. He would dance around other characters, invisible to them, as if floating and in an almost sexual manner. Sometimes before becoming involved in a scene, he could be seen off to the side or near the structure that inhabited the middle of the stage lying on the ground or crawling in an almost erotic, lustful manner. In scenes with Prospero, he would contort his body in various, but not unnatural, ways, and sometimes sensually touching Prospero while delivering the lines in a manner that was entrancing. The way Blue spoke Ariel's lines was almost like singing. His tones were very seductive and were never given in a deep, masculine manner, but also not in a completely effeminate manner. Though he is a spirit and this performance could be portraying that, the spirit came from some individual and was at least once classified as have a gender. Jamie Blue's performance blurred the lines of gender in the play, and I see it as being apt in a time where usual gender and sexuality classification binaries such as male-female, heterosexual-homosexual have become less useful.

1 comment:

  1. Do you think gender is a requirement of the supernatural?

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