New Shakespeare’s Globe head plans ‘to bend gender’ and have women play men

The new head of the iconic Shakespeare’s Globe theatre has pledged to “bend gender” – and bring in more cross-dressing roles for women.

Emma Rice began her term as the theatre’s new artistic director this month, and has plans to shake up the famous theatre – a reproduction of the original Globe, where many Shakespeare works were staged.

As well as pledging to bring Shakespeare to the modern masses, Rice this week said she would also work to bolster the role of women.
New Shakespeare’s Globe head plans ‘to bend gender’ and have women play men
However, rather than insert new female characters into the Bard’s work, given Shakespeare’s scarcity of female characters, Rice’s solution will take theatre back to its roots.

Of course, cross-dressing in Shakespeare would definitely be nothing new – originally women were not allowed to perform on stage, meaning that all female roles were originally played by men.

But Ms Rice explained: told the Times: “There is a target. I’d love for it to be 50-50.

“There’s no reason why Gloucester [in King Lear] can’t be a woman. If anybody bended gender it was Shakespeare, so I think it just takes a change of mindset.”

Ms Rice pointed out that female characters make up just 13 per cent of the lines in in Shakespeare’s works – with women’s lines dipping under 10 percent in popular works such as Hamlet and Julius Caesar.

She explained that the Bard’s influence had also led to a reduce role for women in modern theatre, adding: “When I was applying for the job I stumbled across research that said, on average, there’s 30 per cent women [as a proportion of theatre casts] at any given time.

“There’s some who think that’s because Shakespeare is the blueprint.”