Premiere US Premiere
Production Language English
Country of Origin England, United Kingdom
Description In 2004, Edward Hall’s all-male British Shakespeare troupe Propeller made its American debut at BAM. Puck wore a tutu, suspenders, and clownishly striped tights, and no attempt was made in either the casting or costuming to disguise the fact that hirsute, burly, bass-voiced men were playing female roles. In Shakespeare’s time, female roles might have been played by slight boys. But as Margo Jefferson wrote in her review in The New York Times, “The Propeller Company men are full grown. Some are small, some have big broad limbs; some are balding, and there’s plenty of chest hair. The director, Edward Hall, says that these gender anomalies make us listen closely to the text, watch and assess the love games and power moves of this triple-tiered kingdom where fairies, aristocrats and peasants cross paths and fates. It’s true, thanks to the daring, the dazzle and the pure craft of this company, and it’s absolutely exhilarating… Everything about this production invigorates the play.”
Hall is the son of Sir Peter Hall, founder of the Royal Shakespeare Company, and as a child appeared in the 1968 film of his father’s production of Midsummer. The company got its start at The Watermill Theatre in the U.K., as Hall explained in the program notes, by mixing traditional Shakespearean ideas (men playing women, actors playing the music) “with some kind of punky, modern aesthetic and just saw what the fusion of those two produced.” This production was the company’s fifth.