On International Women's Day, it is a pleasure to be part of our production of 'Richard III', alongside the wonderful actresses in our cast, talented female stage management, and the women at Headlong who make it all happen.
In our production, I get to play two characters who are traditionally male. In having these characters played by a woman, John Haidar has allowed them to morph into something new, undefined by gender. As a female actress playing roles such as Hastings and Ratcliffe, you are given free reign to view them with a fresh perspective. When you cannot play a 52 year-old portly man - even if you wanted to! - you have to forget historical accuracy and character preconceptions and focus on what the character does and says, and be lead by that. The limitations are lifted, and a new female presence in the play can be created.Throughout rehearsals it was never discussed as an obstacle or problematic, which is a wonderful indication of how great the cast and company are.
So many Shakespearean plays are male orientated. Especially ones involving war, violence and betrayal - which are the thrilling, action movies, no? In a modern society where equality is the name of the game, where we see women being passionate yet soft, cruel and kind, sly, strong AND vulnerable, it feels only right for our female characters to be representing this on stage. Our production isn't set in a particular era, but is played in the here and now, and so naturally it makes sense that characters who were male, could now be female; and that women and men alike can be politicians - as well as assassins.
Men and women are more and more able to play with that constructed line of femininity and masculinity, and it is a pleasure to be able to show this on stage as a company. Happy International Women's Day everyone!