jt fergs

Which of Shakespeare’s Characters Are, Uh, ‘Excitable and Quirky’?

I think any Shakespeare character can be played as gay. It’s very easy to take that route with the clowns. Certainly, the part of Aguecheek in Twelfth Night lends itself to that approach. People are going to argue that my clown shepherd in The Winter’s Tale is a little fey; I say he’s just excitable and quirky. Then, of course, there’s that old queen Prospero from The Tempest. And, if you ask me, I think Portia in The Merchant of Venice is a lesbian.

—Jesse Tyler Ferguson, performing The Merchant of Venice and The Winter’s Tale in New York’s Central Park this summer, on whether any of that Bill writer guy’s characters could be ‘mo [via]

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  • slobone

    Mercutio, definitely. He’s like the Jughead of Romeo & Juliet…

  • Zach

    I wouldn’t call him excitable or quirky, but Antonio always read gay to me.

  • Chris

    He’s saying his character, the Clown, is excitable and quirky. He’s not saying all of Shakespeare’s characters are.

  • 7

    I always read Hamlet thinking of the hot sweaty not-so-behind-the-scenes romance between the Prince and Horatio. That just seemed obvious to me. That may just be me, though.

  • boo radley

    Both Twelfth Night and The Merchant of Venice feature characters named Antonio who have special relationships in which they fawn over and materially provide for younger men. In The Merchant of Venice, Antonio, the title character, provides for the expensive needs of his friend Bassanio in his attempts to court Portia for marriage. In Twelfth Night, Antonio the pirate/sea-dog/captain (it’s unclear what he does for a living, except he is somewhat infamous) takes a liking to Sebastian, who has just washed ashore after being shipwrecked. The name Sebastian is significant in the Christian mythos, as Sebastian was a saint who was martyred by being shot through with arrows. Renaissance writers took up the symbol of his death by penetration as a sort of homoerotic icon. The only name gayer than Sebastian in Shakespeare’s work is Ganymede, who shows up in As You Like It as the sobriquet assumed by Rosalind when she decides to dress as a boy. (In Greek mythology, Ganymede was abducted by Zeus, who took the form of an eagle. Renaissance art depicts Zeus the Eagle fucking Ganymede. Refer to The Rape of Ganymede, c. 1611 http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/7/7a/Ganyrubn.jpg Yummy.)

  • eagledancer

    @boo radley:

    Thank you for saving me a post–you covered exactly what I intended to do. One that I might also suggest is Iago’s relationship with Othello. Some academics write about the “3-Way” connection with Othello/Desdemona/Iago, but others think Othello should be in the center…

    I suppose we should throw in Puck (a Gay American Indian actor did a terrific Puck in a Seattle production)and his relationship with his King, not to mention a potentially pervy plot element of how Oberon was fighting with Titania over possession of the little human boy Titania has adopted after her priestess died in childbirth.

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