Date Presented

Spring 4-2021

Document Type


Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts



First Advisor

Prof. Christopher Otwell​

Second Advisor

Dr. Laura Kicklighter

Third Advisor

Dr. Robin Bates


Shakespeare is known for some of his twists on generic gender roles. He explores femininity and masculinity in ways that shed light on gender as a spectrum. He explored androgyny and its implications on a character as well as on an actor in his many works. Many scholars have studied the role of androgyny in his plays, but not many have ventured off the page and explored what that concept means for the actor playing the role. Characters experience the social and physical implications of gender in their world, but actors are faced with the task of bringing those distinct features and their implications to life. This thesis will address the importance of gender performance, specifically androgyny and femininity, in an actor’s journey through a Shakespearean role. Gender performance on the stage is a complex phenomenon that requires an actor to think both introspectively and externally about their portrayal of a character’s internal being.

My thesis will essentially be split into three parts: dramaturgical research, an actor’s guide, and performance. The dramaturgical research will be a synthesis of multiple sources regarding androgyny both in historical context and in the context of Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night specifically. This research will come from a conglomerate of sources that explain androgyny as a concept in the English Renaissance. That research will then be applied to the second piece of this thesis, the actor’s guide. The actor’s guide will be a report of rehearsal experience and personal physical research while playing an androgynous role. The goal of this guide is to provide an accessible piece of work for actors diving into Shakespearean roles that play with the gender spectrum. The performance aspect will show the ultimate results of the actor’s guide. Three contrasting monologues from Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night will be given on the day of my defense that accurately portray different sides of femininity and androgyny.


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