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TOPIC: Female Orlando

Female Orlando 5 months 3 days ago #6938

I work mainly in youth theatre and often cross-cast Shakespeare to give my best actors (regardless of gender) roles that show off their talents. Has anyone had any practical experience of working with an Orlando played by a female as a female?
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Female Orlando 4 months 3 weeks ago #6942

No, but I now really, really want to see one. Do you alter the text much?
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Female Orlando 4 months 3 weeks ago #6943

We've had a little reshuffle of our season so will be working on LLL for this upcoming (Australian) summer instead. Will be working on As You Like It for following summer and will start serious script work in new year. That said the initial works would need a reasonable amount of work - and in all honesty I still need to work through actually feasibility of this. General concept is that Orlando is female and wants to enter combat trials (I'll make the fight with blades rather than by hand to improve believability - to me it's more about the battle trial rather than format). Rosalind falls in love with the 'Man' Orlando at this point - unsure if Orlando (female) has already been in love with Rosalind. In the forest Female Orlando confused about falling for male Ganymede and vice-verse. Reveal at final scene leaves female Orlando extremely emotionally vulnerable, and Rosaline questioning her gender sexuality against passion for Orlando before choosing to be with Orlando.

Hellishly rough concept at this time and I do not know yet how this all affects the poetry notes. Not even at foul papers stage. Out of interest why do you really really want to see one? Would love to hear your reasons. Any ideas you are interested in sharing, feel free. When I get it up and running I'm happy to post-up what I've done - what worked and what didn't.
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Female Orlando 4 months 3 weeks ago #6944

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Other than the practical concerns of actor talent, do you have a compelling reason to actually regender the role instead of merely casting a female actor and having her play the role as male?

I have trouble buying regendering of characters in general, especially in a play like this one, where gender in some ways is at the heart of the story telling. Which is not to say I have any trouble with women playing men's roles - I had all four lovers and Bottom in Midsummer played by women, I cast a woman as Iago, and the Sir Toby in my upcoming Twelfth Night is also a female actor. I've never felt right actually changing the text in order to make the character's gender different.

Your concept as you've outlined it is intriguing, but you have to decide how far you are willing to drift from the story as written while still calling it 'AS YOU LIKE IT' - the play clearly sets a moment that Orlando and Rosalind see each other for the first time and fall in love. I also wonder how you will communicate Rosalind's questioning of her sexuality. But I would love to see how it played out in the forest.
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Female Orlando 4 months 3 weeks ago #6945

Thanks Marshall,
My primary basis of working is creating meaningful theatre experiances for my up-and-coming group which happens to be more girls than boys (ages 14-26), but given we rely on ticket revenue for funding, needed to continue to put out popular productions. By necessity we always cross-cast (and as a general rule I prefer to select roles carefully and cross their gender rather than have girl pretend to be boy) and overtime have now become known for it as one of the touches of our work (that and character development really). We set plays to period but often use the regendering to avoid some of the customs/beliefs that have not stood the test of time and won't be clear to our general audience - this leaves us free to focus on the characters and their journeys. I need to spend more time on LLL to work this concept but my impression is the key theme is love despite mistaken identities and 1 lot of cross-dressing. I see identity rather then gender as the driver of this love - Orlando doesn't strike me as intrinsically male. We'd probably promote the play as "As You Like It - As we like it". Will post up again when I've worked the script up more.
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Female Orlando 4 months 2 weeks ago #6946

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Please do!

While as I've said I have some issues with regendering roles (as opposed to cross-gendering, which again, I encourage), I am interested in your ideas and the community that you create them for. I also like your "As we like it" subtitle - it lets the audience know you've done something with the text.
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