Abstract: Near the end of the 2008-9 school year, a group of four English students at McMaster University performed two scenes from Robert Wilson’s The Three Ladies of London before their peers and instructors. Although the students were initially leery of viewing the characters of Three Ladies as being more than personified embodiments of abstract principles, the process of humanizing them in performance offered a new appreciation of the complex psychological rhythms and moral ambiguities that exist within the play. By watching the scene unfold, students in the audience gradually came to view themselves as an extension of the performance, as occupying the role of London society. Through performance choices, the student performers created a tightly collaborative and reflective piece that challenged many of the group’s initial critical misgivings about the play.
Citation: Dell, Jessica, ‘Classroom Performance of Robert Wilson’s The Three Ladies of London: A Case Study ’, Performance as Research in Early English Theatre Studies: The Three Ladies of London in Context, http://threeladiesoflondon.mcmaster.ca/contexts/JessicaDell.htm.
Abstract: This paper looks at early modern pedagogy as the way English society was being reshaped in the 1580s and 1590s, with its high rate of (over-)educated young men trying to make their way in a virtually ‘closed shop’ workforce. It addresses the idea of the play as ‘propaganda’ in terms of how early modern audiences might have understood its repetitions and multiple variations on social, political, international, and ecclesiastical vice, suspicions of changing loyalties, fear of Catholic intrusion, and especially their own civic behaviour and responsibility for the London formal and informal practices of justice. With examples drawn from tracts on learning and education, the argument will point toward similar learned behaviour in The Three Ladies of London as the way to understand the existing system.
Citation: Hanson, Elizabeth, ‘Early Modern Pedagogy and The Three Ladies of London’, Performance as Research in Early English Theatre Studies: The Three Ladies of London in Context, http://threeladiesoflondon.mcmaster.ca/contexts/ElizabethHanson.htm.
Abstract: This essay is an initial attempt to understand the moral use of the concept of simplicity in The Three Ladies of London. It studies the conflict in the play (and arguably in Wilson himself) between the desire to produce ‘moral drama’ (ie theatre that presents moral issues for the betterment of its audiences) and the conservative religious conviction that the theatre is inherently bad. The play assumes that simplicity and singleness denote purity and perfection whereas duality entails antagonism, rebellion, and deception (Dissimulation); in the context of the theatre, whose very existence depends on deception, disguise, and duality, the attempt to present moral goodness and simple faith seems like a difficult task, if not an impossibility. The second part of the essay uses Gosson’s critique of the stage as a theatre of moral and political judgment to assess Wilson’s success or failure in combining his moral message with his immoral medium.
Citation: Kermode, Lloyd Edward, ‘Simple Judgment and The Three Ladies of London’, Performance as Research in Early English Theatre Studies: The Three Ladies of London in Context, http://threeladiesoflondon.mcmaster.ca/contexts/LloydKermode.htm.