Elizabeth Zeman Kolkovich deposited Women Dancing the Morris in Fletcher and Shakespeare’s The Two Noble Kinsmen, 1613–2015 on Humanities Commons 2 years, 4 months ago
This essay analyses how the morris dance in The Two Noble Kinsmen – a crucial moment in the play’s treatment of gender and class rank – intervenes in seventeenth-century debates about the cultural function of morris dancing and especially of women’s roles within it. The essay considers what morris dancing might have signified at the play’s composition and earliest performances by analysing it alongside its courtly source, seventeenth-century pamphlets, and dances inserted in other professional plays, and it examines how modern performances have remade the scene. While the play text empowers its female dancers, most twentieth- and twenty-first-century performances have limited their authority and made the dance into a scene that highlights the oppression of women. Two recent student performances in the U.S. and New Zealand have reframed the play’s morris as a dance that enables women to embrace playful bawdiness, seek reward, or resist social expectations.