Revolution Shakespeare

Suit the action to the word, the word to the action

Revolution Shakespeare, based in Philadelphia, PA, invites audiences to experience the variety and vitality of Shakespeare's works with bold and honest productions at little to no cost for patrons.

Tackling Titus: Charlotte Northeast

In anticipation of our all-female reading of Titus Andronicus, we asked some of the actors what it's like to work on an all-female Shakespeare. Here's what Charlotte Northeast had to say:

Photo by Kate Raines (Plate 3 Photography)

For what it's worth the image of "mama tiger" comes to mind for me.  I know that if anyone or anything ever hurt one of my own, there is no end to the violence I would inflict on them.  I think violence is not a woman's default but we have immense reserves of it and will unleash it if and when the situation is right.  The very act of giving birth is a violent upheaval of a woman's body - we literally have it in our bones. 

In 'Titus' I think that also rings true - the defense of one's own and the rage one feels when our children are harmed. Titus and Tamara share in that.

Charlotte played the role of MARCUS in our reading of Titus Andronicus.

Tackling Titus: Ife Foy

In anticipation of our all-female reading of Titus Andronicus, we asked some of the actors what it's like to work on an all-female Shakespeare. Here's what Ife Foy had to say:

I believe women are often seen as delicate, polite creatures who need to be cared for in ways that may or may not be aligned with who they are and how they move through society. Working on an all-female Titus is thrilling for many reasons, but one of them being Shakespeare never intended for women to play these roles. We often shun women who do not fit into society's cookie-cutter mold of delicacy and politeness, but women are powerful, divine creatures who fit into and create many molds that sustain and enhance life.

Ife played the role of AARON in our reading of Titus Andronicus.

Tackling Titus: Kittson O'Neill

In anticipation of our all-female reading of Titus Andronicus, we asked the actors what it's like to work on an all-female Shakespeare production. Here's what Kittson O'Neill had to say:

These plays were written hundreds of years ago in a world that is as foreign to a modern American as rural North Korea is right now. We have no idea what their lives were really like or what they felt about sex and marriage and the social order. They plays give us some clues and that's really fun, but they don't take our modern brains and scrub out the last 400 years. We see them with 21st century eyes. And knowing Elizabethan manners and values isn't important to Shakespeare. It's dressing. We don't produce these plays because the world they happened in was sacred or important. We do them because the stories are sacred and important. And in our modern world violent stories happen on and with all kinds of bodies. Women have always been fighters and villains, but culture did not want to lionize the violent, ambitious woman. She upset the order. Gender difference, like class and race and ancestry is all part of a complicated world of divisions that those who had grabbed power NEEDED in order to function. But that doesn't make any of it true: race is not real, nobility is not something you inherit and women are not innately one thing or another. Ask the bad-ass bitches of the YJP who are currently holding back ISIS in Kurdistan.

For these plays to live now, to be seen and heard truthfully by modern audiences they need to live in the modern world. Casting women as the militant villains of these plays can help a modern audience to really and truly HEAR the text. You are attending. This character must speak her truth to us because we cannot make assumptions about who she is based on the body she is in.  All that really matters is that the spirit of the actor playing the role is matched to the needs of the role. Do you need a big scary guy to play MacBeth? No. What you need is a human who is quick to rage and easily swayed; Who lives entirely in their body and their desires and taps into a terrifying violence when things fall apart. The outer shell isn't that important. The most moving Romeo and Juliet I ever saw was played by a pair of actors in their 70s. Never have I listened more intently to that text then when it came from those mouths, from those bright, passionate fearless minds. Words first. Then spirit. Body third.

Kittson played the role of TITUS in our reading of Titus Andronicus.