Representing victims and offenders in contemporary performance: the ideal and the complex in Shakespeare’s Measure for Measure

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Abstract

This article uses the criminological frameworks of ideal and complex victims to explore the Donmar Warehouse’s 2018 production of Measure for Measure that grounded the play in references to the Me Too movement. This production staged two versions of the play in one performance, including regendering and role-switching of the central antagonists, which drew attention to the gender dynamics of victimization and offence. While the traditional Isabella was shown to be a nigh perfect ideal victim, when she assumed the offender’s role and victimized Angelo, no neat reversal of power roles was possible. A framework that allows for more complex understandings of victims and offenders is necessary to read this version and to apprehend these issues in real life contexts. This article argues that representations of victims and offenders in theatrical performance have the power to affect understandings of victimization in broader socio-legal contexts and therefore deserve close analysis.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-23
Number of pages23
JournalLaw and Humanities
Early online date4 Oct 2021
DOIs
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 4 Oct 2021

Keywords

  • Law
  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
  • Shakespeare
  • ideal victims
  • complex victims
  • offenders
  • cross-gender performance
  • sexual assault
  • Ideal victim
  • representation
  • feminist theory
  • complex victim
  • theatre
  • performance
  • ideal offender

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