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Talking diversity with Jade Anouka, part of the Donmar's new all-female Shakespeare Trilogy


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This September will see Phyllida Lloyd return to The Donmar Warehouse with her Shakespearean Trilogy, starring Jade Anouka (pictured). Her all-female cast will be tackling Julius Caesar, Henry IV and The Tempest.

Anouka, who trained at the Guilford School of Acting, has worked on both sides of the Atlantic and her Shakespeare credits range from Twelfth Night and Romeo and Juliet to Phyllida Lloyd's current trilogy.

Jade has worked with Phyllida since 2012, when she first appeared in the all-female production of Julius Caesar - an experience she describes as "like walking into the unknown."

"We knew it would be all female and we knew it would be set in a prison," she says. 

Over time this 2012 production grew from one play to two with Henry IV, before finally adding adding The Tempest this year.

This time around, Jade will be tacking Hotspur in Henry IV, Ariel in The Tempest and Mark Anthony in Julius Cesear. She says the experience is exciting, but that it is intense to be playing all three back to back. She describes the Donmar as a "great venue" with "great atmosphere."

When discussing how the show is developing she says it is "important to ask: why tell the story again?" In other words, what is going to make this relevant to the audience once more?

She believes that as an actor it's important to "find a through line" and ask '"Why have I been cast?"

Jade believes that the audience must draw links between the three characters, to work out why her prisoner has been given these roles.

She describes Hotspur as a very physical character, whom she has reimagined as a boxer. It wasn't just the physical challenge she took on for the trilogy, though - she describes her other character, Mark Anthony, as a 'talker'. She constantly revisits the fact that her initial character is a prisoner, "training and trying to better themselves."

She believes having an all female cast is important as "women are unrepresented in the theatre" and "ethnicities are also under represented" too.

She also believes the all-female cast is a very "original idea" because "it's always important to reimagine" when it comes to Shakespeare.

A trilogy of Shakespeare may seem daunting to some younger audiences however Jade thinks that "if it's performed well, it's easy to understand" and that you don't necessarily "need to understand every word." She says that as long as audiences come in "with an open mind" and follow the story it can be accessible to everyone.

It's safe to say this show is going to be innovative, and will once again bring Shakespeare to a modern audience.

The Donamar Warehouse's YOUNG+FREE scheme makes 25% of all tickets free to those aged 25 and under. Tickets are released on a weekly basis (every Friday) from 2nd September. You can sign up here

The Shakespeare Trilogy is playing at The Donmar Warehouse from 23rd September - 17th December 2016. Find out more here

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