Out Loud Theatre gender-bends the Bard

Out Loud Theatre Company's Sarah Leach (Hamlet) & Erika Rethorn (Horatio). Photo by by Justine M. Johnson.
Out Loud Theatre Company’s Sarah Leach (Hamlet) & Erika Rethorn (Horatio). Photo by by Justine M. Johnson.

By Frank O’Donnell, WPRO Arts and Entertainment Contributor

Kira Hawkridge and her OUT LOUD Theatre Company enjoy shaking things up. So when you hear that she’s taking some of Shakespeare’s classic male monologues and having them performed by female actors, you’re not really surprised.

“It is of course not unheard of to gender-bend Shakespearean roles,” says Hawkridge, “But this particular showcase was an original idea from the troupe. This season is all about pushing beyond the form, and this concept seemed like a perfect project to take on as our summer fundraiser.”

So Hamlet, Romeo, Macbeth and others will be played by women.

“The OUT LOUD Ladies are a dynamic and diverse group of women who have jumped on board with this concept from the beginning,” says Hawkridge. “Their willingness to explore these characters as an ensemble has brought an exciting vibe into the rehearsal room.”

The performances will be followed by talk-back sessions.

“Our hope is to continue the conversation about gender within these stories, the theatre, the arts and society, outside of the rehearsal space and with the audience,” says Hawkridge. “What do we see differently when hearing a story expressed by an all-male cast? An all-female cast? What would we see that might not have seen before?”

Entertain and provoke thought. That’s the goal of OUT LOUD Theatre Company.

“This showcase opens the doors to a much larger conversation while allowing audiences to experience these classic characters and these vivid stories from a new perspective and in a new light.”

So why Shakespeare?

“We chose to explore the great Shakespearean characters because these stories are timeless,” says Hawkridge. “They are constantly being re-imagined, re-explored, and re-discovered. There is so much to sink your teeth into, from when they were first written to the stages of today.”

“Bending the Bard: OUT LOUD Ladies Take on Shakespeare’s Lads” runs June 19 and 20 at 7:30PM at the Mathewson Street Theater in downtown Providence. Tickets are $15 at the door, and proceeds will help OUT LOUD produce “Jane Eyre,” set to open in August. For more information, visit www.outloudtheatre.org.

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