Abstract and Keywords
Critical attention to the cross-dressed boy player has tended to focus on the erotic appeal of the boys. The boy player may have been an object of desire, but he was equally a skilled subject. Indeed, ‘boyishness’ is constituted by certain forms of skill display, and redirecting our attention to the skill of the boy player can provide a fuller account of the nature of embodiment on the early modern stage. The childishness of the boy actor allows him to play a double game, a dialectic of revealing and concealing skill, of presentation and representation that draws attention to the animate and quicksilver qualities of the young actor. This argument is made by contrasting the presentational and representational strategies in Lyly’s Galatea and Shakespeare’s Love’s Labours Lost and Twelfth Night.
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