From the Greeks to Shakespeare, the stage has long been a male-dominated domain. Women as actresses were akin to prostitutes in England until the late Victorian era, at least. Although now we have women treading the boards and gracing the silver screens, there remains an imbalance. The roles played by women are often smaller, less vital, and support the male-driven stories. This week alone has seen a media storm in a teacup over how Renée Zellweger looks, and although an actress does rely heavily on her face to make a living, the emphasis ought to be on how she conveys emotion through facial expressions rather than about whether or not she has had plastic surgery!
So it was a welcome relief to find out about new theater company, Antic Face, which is about to stage its first production at London’s Victoria and Albert Museum. Antic Face was founded by Cambridge alumni Emma Hall and Charlie Parham as a means to redress gender inequality in the arts. Not only are they committed to putting on plays with strong female characters and an equal gender split in terms of casting, but they are also focusing on educating people in order to positively promote gender equality on the stage and provide a platform for young people to gain access to the arts on a professional level. Having an agenda that is explicit in its desire to close the gender gap through gender blind casting and an emphasis on staging productions that have strong female characters is a change from the norm. It’s a bold move in an industry that has in the past been focused on promoting negative stereotypes of women.
Hippolytos by Euripides is their first production, running from November 1–27 in the tunnels of Victoria and Albert. We will certainly be supporting this new venture that will work towards remedying the gender divide in theater!
Title image source: anticface.com