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Dervla Kirwan echoes calls for more gender-blind casting in the industry

Dervla Kirwan in The Weir. Photo: Helen Warner.
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Dervla Kirwan has criticised ageism in the industry – particularly towards women – and has backed Emma Thompson’s calls for more plays to be cast against gender.

Kirwan said she had noticed the “lack of work that is out there” and added she was “very grateful” to land the part of Valerie in The Weir, which is currently running at Wyndham’s Theatre.

She said that playwrights could have a “crack” at writing roles for older women, adding: “We are screaming out for those parts and women are screaming out for something they can identify with”.

Responding to comments made by Thomspon, who said gender-blind casting should be more commonplace in the sector, Kirwan praised the Donmar Warehouse’s all-female production of Julius Caesar as “a deeply important moment in theatre”.

She also highlighted a forthcoming production of Hamlet starring Maxine Peake in the title role, and said: “If Shakespeare were alive today he would say ‘Yeah, why not, bring it on’.”

Meanwhile, Josie Rourke, who directed The Weir and who is artistic director of the Donmar Warehouse, said the venue looks for productions that have “really big and strong roles for women”.

However, she said it was not just about addressing the gender balance of a show, but about the “scale of the part and where they [women] get to go in it”.


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