Monday, May 7, 2012

A Brief History of Cross-Dressing

Michael Williams in
EMU Theatre's production of "Pinocchio"
Hercules and Athena did it. So does Bugs Bunny. Tootsie was nominated for Academy Awards. And some of EMU Theatre's fellows will be delving into some cross-dressing in Alfred Hitchcock's The 39 Steps. Drag and cross-dressing is hardly a "fad". Check out some of the earliest and most interesting forms of cross-dressing.

  • Women did not typically act in ancient Greek and Roman theatre, therefore men and boys typically played female roles until the 17th Century. 
  • Many women would cross-dress during the Civil War to join the military, because women were not permitted to join the armed forces.
  • It has been suggested the earliest Olympic games were performed in the nude to ensure the opponents were not women trying to pass as male athletes.
  • The play, M. Butterfly is based off the true-story of 20 year-long affair between the male opera singer, Shi-Pei-Pu and Bernard Boursicot, an attache in the French Foreign Service. Boursicot claimed to have no idea Shi-Pei-Pu was a man. To be fair, Shi-Pei-Pu went as far as faking the birth of their son. The affair ended after Shi-Pei-Pu revealed his secretBoursicot "came out" shortly after.

Thanks for reading! Have you ever dressed in drag? What's your favorite historical cross-dresser? Comment and let us know! And don't miss The 39 Steps!

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