It's a Drag: Cross-Dressing in Performance by Janet Tennant

It's a Drag: Cross-Dressing in Performance by Janet Tennant

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Favorite examples of cross-dressing or cross-gender performances include Dustin Hoffman in Tootsie, Vesta Tilley as Burlington Bertie, Maxine Peake as Hamlet, and Drag Queen RuPaul outrageously fronting the RuPaul Drag Race. Cross-Dressing in Performance tells the story of the different ways performers cross-dress. Janet Tennant looks at many of the memorable performers over the years who have adopted the characters and dress of others, and why they have done so: to tell stories, to amuse, to create memorable alter-egos, to rebel or call attention to social and political issues or merely for reasons of expediency.

Tennant examines cross-dressing at different periods of theatrical history in the Western canon, predominantly in Britain and North America. Not following a conventional historical timeline, Tennant instead examines the different types of cross-dressing/cross-gender performance: Boys in Shakespeare, Heroes in Opera, Pantomime Dames, and Drag Queens being just a few. And no study of cross-dressing can, of course, forget its origins in Ancient Greece.

It's a Drag: Cross-Dressing in Performance discusses the present and attempts to predict the future of cross-dressing in performance. How will the drive towards equality affect the use of cross-dressing and cross-gender role casting? Will gender-blind roles become as prevalent as color-blind casting? Will audiences continue to be amused and impressed, or will gender differences in entertainment cease to be important?

Paperback / 262 pages