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Emma Rice to redress gender imbalance in Shakespeare

Emma Rice has been appointed artistic director at Shakespeare's Globe. Steve Tanner Emma Rice, artistic director of Shakespeare's Globe. Photo: Steve Tanner
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Emma Rice has said she feels a responsibility to address gender imbalances in Shakespeare plays.

The incoming artistic director of Shakespeare’s Globe, whose first production in charge of the venue opens next month, said there was a need to address the way the playwright’s work has influenced theatrical practice.

“I certainly felt, as someone who hasn’t spent a lot of time on Shakespeare, that I did have a responsibility going into a Shakespearean venue to see the effect he has had on theatre. It’s actually 13% of lines [for characters with more than 500 lines] he wrote for women, and it’s not okay, simple as that,” Rice said at a discussion event held at the Lyric Hammersmith.

Full casting for Rice’s first production, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, has not yet been announced, however she revealed that several male parts had been given to female performers, and vice versa.

Rice added: “I don’t think it’s a big deal on lots of levels. It doesn’t feel very radical, it’s just a bit fresher.”

Cabaret artist Meow Meow has been confirmed to play Titania in the production, which begins a run at the Globe on April 30.

Rice was speaking about A Midsummer Night’s Dream alongside directors Erica Whyman, who is directing the Royal Shakespeare Company’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream: A Play for the Nation, and Stef O’Driscoll, whose production of the Shakespeare comedy is running at the Lyric Hammersmith.

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