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Jade Anouka: ‘Shakespeare needs more gender-swapped casting to stay relevant’

Jade Anouka
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Actor Jade Anouka has argued that there needs to be more openness in the casting of classical theatre in order for it to stay relevant to younger audiences.

The performer, whose theatre credits include the all-female Shakespeare trilogy at London’s Donmar Warehouse, called for more gender-swapping in the casting of classical roles.

Speaking at the Casting Directors’ Guild Awards, Anouka told The Stage: “[We were not] the first by a long shot, but for a major London theatre to do [all-female Shakespeare] was a big statement and I’ve seen the changes happen across the board in other theatres. It’s a good thing.”

Anouka argued Shakespeare is “totally not as relevant” to younger audiences if directors stick to traditional casting.

She added: “You change the casting and you hear those words spoken through different mouths and you hear the words anew and the plays can come alive again, Shakespeare and the like.

“There needs to be a reason why we still do [the classics] and I think casting is going to be the reason.”

Anouka also called for more female stories from history to be told in theatre.

“There are so many women’s stories that have been hidden and it’s time to hear their stories,” she said.

“I was doing Queen Margaret [at the Royal Exchange in Manchester], she’s been there hiding in plain sight and actually it was like ‘oh look at this story and let’s focus on her’, and Emilia [Bassano] is another character like that. I think there are so many more women’s stories we haven’t heard that have been overlooked by history.”

Could Emilia Bassano, the ‘woman ignored by history’, be Shakespeare’s Dark Lady?

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