But in Belfast, a theatre company for female writers, producers, directors and actors has recently been established to produce more plays written by women, increase the number of roles for women and to give more women theatre-production and direction experience.
The company is called Fickle Favours, and it is currently preparing ‘Shakespeare’s Sisters,’ its first project which takes to the stage at the Black Box at the end of March. It was set up by Aislinn Clarke, the director of Wireless Mystery Theatre following several conversations with female writers, actors, and directors, in order to address the shortfall in opportunities for women in theatre in the UK.
Clarke picked Shakespeare for their first project because the frequency with which Shakespeare plays are produced in the UK seems to be adding greatly to the gender imbalance in theatre. Shakespeare wrote his plays as a man of his time, mostly for a male audience and cast, intending even the female character roles to be played by men.
“Nowadays more Shakespeare is performed in the UK than any other works so this imbalance is constantly being perpetuated,” said Clarke, who is Artistic Director of Shakespeare’s Sisters. “The point of Shakespeare’s Sisters is to highlight the imbalance in gender representation in UK theatre and to give modern Northern Irish female writers, directors, actors a chance to explore some of Shakespeare’s most memorable female characters that never got a proper airing back in the day.”
Shakespeare’s Sisters will be a variety show of 12 theatrical vignettes – including ensemble pieces, monologues, musical pieces and shadow puppets – written from the point of view of Shakespeare’s great female characters. It features new work created especially for the project including plays by Maggie Cronin, Andrea Montgomery and Moyra Donaldson.
It will be presented in conjunction with International Women’s Day events for March, on Thursday the 28th and Friday the 29th at 8pm (doors open at 7.30) in The Black Box, Belfast. Tickets are £6 and can be bought on the Black Box website www.blackboxbelfast.com