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Glenda Jackson: ‘Theatre still doesn’t think women are interesting’

Glenda Jackson in King Lear at the Old Vic. Photo: Tristram Kenton


Glenda Jackson has bemoaned theatre’s lack of progress in gender equality, claiming the situation has not improved since she took a hiatus from acting 25 years ago.

Jackson returned to the stage last year – after more than 20 years as an MP – in King Lear at the Old Vic [1]. [1]

The gender-swapped production saw Jackson take on the title role, a move that was described by playwright Ronald Harwood as being “astonishingly stupid”. [2]

Responding, Jackson said: “He clearly hasn’t seen many productions then, has he? What is really important is I’ve been away from [acting] for 25 years and I was moaning when I left at the lack of how creative writers don’t find women interesting. They’re always the adjunct to the male driving dramatic engine. And I come back after 25 years and it’s exactly the same situation.”

Jackson was speaking as she collected the best Shakespearean performance prize, for King Lear, at this year’s Critics’ Circle Awards in London. [3]

Jackson added that rather than advocate more women playing men’s roles, “I would advocate more writers finding women interesting”.

“[I want them to] really see that we’re not this homogenous group that you can stick into a box and say ‘We’ve dealt with that’,” she said.