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What does the RSC's 2018 season, directed entirely by women, mean for the future of Shakespeare?


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In a 'bold' move, the Royal Shakespeare Company has recently announced that all plays in the upcoming Summer 2018 season will be directed by women. 

[Titus Andronicus, 2006. Ellie Kurttz]

The RSC's artistic director will continue to be Gregory Doran, but we can expect plays directed by the likes of Polly Findlay, Fiona Laird, Jo Davies, Maria Aberg, and Erica Whyman.

Doran commented that the RSC had "reached a point where those women directors had been with us and had grown, developed." This is great - and I do respect Gregory Doran for this decision - but his words do still sound demeaning. Why are male directors allowed free reign to direct as they wish immediately, whereas "those women directors" need to learn from the professionals and "grow" first?

It should come as no surprise that women are incredibly capable of leading a cast of actors, from Michelle Terry being recently appointed the artistic director of Shakespeare's Globe to Deborah Warner being the first woman to win the Olivier award for Best Director back in 1988.

This season is going to do great things for female theatre-makers. It gives female directors a chance for their work to be seen on big stages for big audiences, which is very exciting.

But what does this female-dominated season mean for the future of Shakespeare?

It will be interesting to see whether the RSC will allow women to reclaim some of the less 'feminist' storylines. Take, for example, The Taming of the Shrew, in which Katherina is quite literally 'tamed' by her husband for having an opinion. It will be great to see how female directors tackle themes like this. 

This move will modernise Shakespeare in a way we haven't yet seen. The feminist movement is growing daily and people are beginning to realise women are just as capable and as equal to men. This season will aid this and is going to throw Shakespeare into the 21st Century, a place where women are becoming stronger all the time.

This season is allowing for a completely different take on these classic plays. It is going to reignite and refresh Shakespeare, meaning his writing won't be getting dull anytime soon. This will mean an audience who knows the plays like the back of their hands will remain engaged and want to see the new adaptations.

Moreover, it may also engage a wider audience of people who might not have been interested in Shakespeare until this moment. It will give young boys something to respect and young girls something to aspire to. It could inspire these same young girls to study the Bard's work and get excited by English classes. It could inspire those young girls to want to act, or maybe even direct themselves one day. It could inspire the young girls to have the will to engage more with the theatre world. 

This season is a win for women everywhere and a resolute win for the theatre world. The only thing I have left to wonder is why it hasn't happened sooner.

Visit the RSC website, here

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