Mine is Yours Theatre Company Announces Gender-Reversed R&J

Mine is Yours R&J
Mine is Yours has announced that its upcoming production of R&J, based on William Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet, will be a gender-reversed production, edited by Hannah Pell and directed by Abby Craden.

The Montague family is liberal and sexually free, particularly the wild and Bohemian daughter Romea. The Capulets are a traditional, religious family (led by a hot-headed woman and her reticent and timid husband), the most chaste and devout of whom is young Julian. Their feud is deep-seated, and the violence simmering in the streets of Verona can no longer be ignored. And that’s all before the play even begins.

The cast will include Alan Blumenfeld as Nurse, Hayley Brown as Paris, Charles M. Howell IV as Capulet’s Husband, Katherine James as Capulet, Cynthia Kania as Sister Laurence, Wendy Pigott as Montague and Apothecary, Hannah Pell as Benvolia, Taylor Jackson Ross as Mercutia, Mary Ellen Schneider as Romea, Caitlin Stegemoller as Princess, Paul Turbiak as Julian, and Sarah Watson as Tybalt. 

The company knew they wanted their next production to be a fully gender-reversed Shakespeare classic for several reasons: a lack of gender parity is still prevalent across the entertainment industry; Shakespeare’s characters embody such fundamental truths about human nature that their words translate beautifully from one gender to another; and separating the words Shakespeare wrote for Romeo, Juliet, the Nurse, etc. from the genders we associate them with both reveals often-overlooked facets of those characters and challenges our assumptions about what it means to be a man or a woman.

“We didn’t want to do a gender-reversed production because we think Shakespeare’s female roles are uninteresting,” says executive director Hannah Pell. “Quite the contrary! Shakespeare wrote extraordinary roles for women! But given the theatrical and legal constraints of his era, he understandably wrote primarily male characters. In both classical and modern theatre, we consider it normal to NOT see women on the stage. Across Shakespeare’s plays, the gender breakdown of roles is 84% male, 12% female, and 4% gender-ambiguous (the servants, messengers, etc.) That doesn’t accurately reflect the world at all. If we just wait for it to become normal to see an equal number of women and men on the stage, it will never happen. Change doesn’t come through lamenting the status quo.”

Men and women have been under-served by age-old gender stereotypes in fiction as well as by a lack of gender parity. During the callbacks for Romea and Julian, director Abby Craden vented, “I’m just tired of – maybe it’s because I have a son – but I’m tired of the women always being the honorable ones and the men always being the lust-driven ones.” What would be revealed about the complex characters at the center of Shakespeare’s most famous romance – and about the nature of men and women – if the more impulsive, poetic one is the woman, and the more thoughtful, reflective one is the man?

In Shakespeare’s time, people went to hear a play. Today, we go see a play. “Come hear the play like you’ve never seen it before.”

November 7-16, 2014
Mine is Yours Theatre Company at Theatre of NOTE
1517 N. Cahuenga Blvd
Los Angeles, CA 90028
Tickets: $15 general admission, available starting 10/17


4 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Deborah Voorhees
    Sep 24, 2014 @ 09:48:39

    How fun. I love this!



  2. Shakespeare in LA
    Sep 24, 2014 @ 09:52:50

    It’s definitely a new concept!



  3. Trackback: Mine is Yours Theatre Company Announces Gender-Reversed R&J | The Shakespeare Standard
  4. Trackback: Mine is Yours Theatre Company Announces Gender-Reversed R&J | The Shakespeare Standard

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