Shakespeare celebrated, womens’ portrayals in film compared
By Jenn Tyborski
Shakespeare may be long gone, but his words live and breathe on through various forms of print, film and communication around the globe. Presenting their work on Shakespeare, Regina Buccola, associate professor of English, and Roosevelt University student Alicia Fedro discussed the various impacts Shakespeare has had on both academic and recreational discourse.
The Faculty/Student Research Forum on Shakespeare in Performance Studies and Film Studies was held last Thursday in AUD 320.
Before Fedro began her honors thesis presentation, she explained her history with Shakespeare.
“When I encountered Shakespeare, I did it on my own and before I ever walked into a college and read it, and I read it as literature, and literature only,” Fedro said. “It didn’t occur to me until I began taking courses at this level that they were plays, and they were meant to be performed.”
As her interest in Shakespeare increased, so did the mediums she viewed.
“Moving into film kind of surprised me because what I saw on screen felt very Hollywood — it didn’t feel like Shakespeare,” Fedro said. “One of the things that impressed me most, is that the women, who I always felt Shakespeare gave this incredible voice, became pretty much Hollywood, man-made idols.”
Fedro’s honor thesis focused on the, “difference between Shakespeare’s women as they were written and those characters interpreted by performance choices.” Fedro presented two film clips to showcase this very distinction.
As an example, Fedro compared the portrayals of Lady Anne from two versions of “Richard III.”
“As a feminist, I feel that those characters have lost their voice in film,” Fedro said. “There is an extraordinary gap in agency between the women in the words and the women on film.”
Fedro later shared her thoughts about Buccola.
“I have to say that Gina Buccola is my mentor and idol, and presenting with her was a bit stressful,” Fedro said. “My post on Facebook analogized it as ‘being asked to sing backup for Aretha Franklin.’”
Buccola’s presentation followed and stressed the difficult task of completing the collection of essays in her latest publication, “Chicago Shakespeare Theater: Suiting the Action.”
According to Buccola, the collection of essays took just under two years to complete. Her goal: to get the Chicago Shakespeare Theater adequate recognition.
“I knew that there were books about other similar kinds of theaters … so I thought that there should be a book about Chicago Shakespeare Theatre,” Buccola said.
Buccola approached many possible essayists for the collection.
“This was something that everyone we approached was really committed to,” Buccola said. “Not everyone that I approached was able to participate and contribute. But everyone said, ‘Yes, this should happen. I’m glad somebody is doing this,’ in their own terms.”
Larry Howe, chair of the Department of Literature and Languages, explained that the book came about from Buccola’s scholar in residence at the Chicago Shakespeare Theatre.
“[Her book] commemorates the 25th anniversary of the Chicago Shakespeare Theatre,”
Approaching the task, Buccola’s angle was performance studies. According to Buccola, performance studies is “all the rave” now in Shakespeare studies.
“If you’re going to study works that are almost 400 plus years old, you have to have an angle,” Buccola said. “You have to have some point of entry that is unique.”
Reflecting on the presentation, Fedro said she was happy with the experience.
“Overall, the experience was an amazing opportunity to combine my love of Shakespeare with the wealth of knowledge that I have gained from Gina Buccola,” she said.