Maria searches for Kynaston to learn more about the craft of acting. What they find in each other is something that they never found on stage – love.
The basic human drive that motivates Hughes’ and Kynaston’s behavior, I think, is the need for acceptance and search for identity. Kynaston grew up being trained to portray female roles in the theater. It was on stage that he found his identity regardless of the roles he played. King Charles II’s proclamation indirectly detached Kynaston from his true being, leaving him searching for his identity. Hughes, meanwhile, was an aspiring actress who struggled to find her identity on stage. Although considered a star in her own right, Hughes needed an affirmation and validation for her acting skills which she struggled to get on stage.
The film “Stage Beauty” shows the fine artistry in portraying roles that are alien to one’s being, as in Kynaston’s portrayal of female roles. Acting like a man or a woman on stage can be learned through years of training and hard work. The stage, therefore, is the place where these various roles are performed and lived out. The stage’s appeal lies in the illusion and trickery conjured by its performers who act out different roles. Like the society from which we play a part (whether as a mother, a son, or a lover, for instance), the world is our very own stage where these gender roles are played out, or rather, performed to maintain the trickery and illusion which separate one gender from the other. The film, as this paper argues, breaks the artifice of gender roles by showing precisely that these roles are performances rather than naturally occurring through one’s identity. Moreover, the film challenges society’s definition of how a man or a woman should be and invites us to transcend the differences between gender roles. The film’s elements (mise-en-scene, cinematography, editing, music, and