Date on Master's Thesis/Doctoral Dissertation
Theatre Arts, MFA
Committee Co-Chair (if applicable)
Biberman, S. Matthew
Shakespeare; black; queer; men; Twelfth Night
This MFA thesis explores queer, black representation in William Shakespeare’s drama and in the University of Louisville’s Department of Theatre Arts Fall 2021 production of an adaption of Twelfth Night (1601). Directed by Jennifer Pennington, the repurposed script and non-traditional casting targeted a modern audience. Cast as Olivia’s drunk uncle, Sir Toby Belch, I aimed to discover if my identify as a black, queer, cis man could be incorporated into Shakespeare’s text. Sir Toby Belch’s raucous, heterosexual, and sometimes violent, traits are often imagined today as innately masculine. I argue that Shakespeare’s plays can be appropriated by queer, black actors to express their queer, black identity and to reject colonialist conceptions of sexuality and race. I detail how the relationship between Shakespeare, race, and sexuality informed my portrayal of a queer, black Sir Toby Belch. I offer a black, queer approach to performing Shakespeare to encourage queer, black actors to embrace their identity and challenge canonized texts that exclude them.
Bogard, Jahi E, "The reading of Sir Toby Belch: a queer and black exploration of William Shakespeare's twelfth night." (2022). Electronic Theses and Dissertations. Paper 3878.