A Shakespearean Gender-Bender

shakespeareThe Buffalo Humanities Festival is excited to present a special performance and presentation by Shakespeare in Delaware Park! The performance will take place on Saturday, Sept. 26th from 1 – 2 pm in the Burchfield Penney Auditorium.

The presentation will, naturally, explore gender roles, in this case how casting different genders affects audience reception of Twelfth Night. William Shakespeare wrote some of the most exciting and complex female characters in the dramatic canon.  And yet, he wrote them for male actors at a time when women weren’t allowed on stage.  Does a male perspective on a female voice change the message?  Does a modern audience experience cross-gender casting differently than viewers of Shakespeare’s day?

In this presentation, Shakespeare in Delaware Park will explore such questions in a double take of Olivia and Viola scenes from Twelfth Night, once with an all-male cast and once with all women, to show how gender influences text, and ultimately, the performance experience.

Shakespeare in Delaware Park is a not-for-profit, professional theatre company dedicated to providing free, high-quality public theatre to the widest possible audience.  One of Buffalo’s most beloved cultural institutions, SDP is currently in its 40th Summer Season.

You can see its production of Romeo and Juliet until July 12th, which also features women actors in several traditional male roles. The official run of Twelfth Night is from July 23rd through August 16th, and will feature an all-male cast. We highly recommend that you see the performance before the Festival!

You can learn more about Shakespeare in Delaware Park at their website. Consider making a donation to keep this beloved Buffalo tradition alive.

New History Museum Kickoff Event Added to 2015 Schedule!

business-manWe’re very excited to announce that this year’s Humanities Festival will now run from Wednesday, Sept. 23rd to Saturday, Sept. 26th! The expanded schedule will allow us to add more events and performances to the schedule while reducing overlap, making it easier for festival goers to participate in all of the events that interest them.

In addition to the expanded schedule, we also have a new kickoff event planned for Wednesday evening from 7 to 9pm at the Buffalo History Museum. It will be a lecture and reception led by Prof. Patrick McDevitt of the UB History Department entitled “Do Clothes Make the Man?” The talk will explore the history of the man’s suit in Western fashion and the ways in which it continues to convey notions of wealth, masculine prestige, and power. Also featured will be a “pop-up” exhibit about men’s fashions from the Buffalo History Museum’s collections.

Prof. McDevitt will discuss the extent to which regional dress for men from around the world has largely been colonized by the dark, sober, Western suit.  Without his Savile Row suit, James Bond would be just another government assassin. Even famously fashion-averse Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg puts on a suit to meet the President. The goal of the lecture is to ultimately interrogate our understanding of the role that the suit plays in shaping gender norms and denoting power in the contemporary world.

Patrick McDevitt is Associate Professor of History at the University at Buffalo.  As a specialist in Irish, British, and imperial history, McDevitt explores the cultural meanings of sport, masculinity, religion, and fashion. His life’s ambition is to be on a first-name basis with an Italian cordwainer who makes his shoes.

We hope you’ll join us for this lecture and kickoff reception! Check back here and on Facebook and Twitter for more updates as we work toward finalizing the schedule for this year’s festival.