Not Hamlet: Meditations on the Frail Position of Women in Drama
Page extent: 100
"A thoughtful and considered kick up the arse to conspiracy theorists and to patriarchy" – Michael Boyd, Artistic Director RSC
Cleopatra, La Pucelle, Ophelia, Shaw’s St. Joan and Ibsen’s Hedda – a handful of seminal roles for women in the classical canon. Janet Suzman has played them all and directed some. Here she examines their complexity and explores why only Cleopatra has an independence that allows her to speak to modern women.
None of these, regrettably, matches up to a Hamlet, but as she is grateful for the parts he did write, Suzman feels a lightly-barbed attack on those who doubt Shakespeare’s authorship is way overdue. She also takes issue with received ideas on boy-actors playing mature women in Shakespeare’s company, and reflects on how female characters in classical drama have not been on a level with their male counterparts. Today, on TV, film and the stage, this remains the case. Not Hamlet but Hamlette, please.
'Cerebral but also highly readable and entertaining' The Stage
'The essay on Cleopatra is the best I have ever read' Michael Dobson, CEO Shakespeare Institute
'An absolute gem... Clever, witty, original, backed up research and analysis, a stunning voyage around some of the greatest stage characters from Saint Joan to Cleopatra.' Kate Mosse (author of Labyrinth, Sepulchre and Citadel)
'The book is a wonder. I raced through each provocative and insightful chapter, nodding agreement throughout. It should be in all the best-seller lists, and...in many a Christmas stocking' Sir Ian McKellen
'I really enjoyed Not Hamlet - feisty, sensible, continually engaging and very well written. I have always suspected that intelligent actors know at least as much as scholars do about Shakespeare, and this proves it. And it is dead right about the absurdities regarding which overeducated aristocrat wrote Shakespeare' Robert Brustein (Theatre Critic, The New Republic)
‘A thoughtful and considered kick up the arse to conspiracy theorists and to patriarchy.’ Michael Boyd, Former Artistic Director, RSC