All the Women Are White, All the Blacks Are Men…in Theatre? RSC’s all Black Cast and Donmar’s all Women Cast

By Femficatio Press
4th September 2012, 21:39 GMT

The Director of Margaret Thatcher’s biopic and Mamma Mia!, Phyllida Lloyd is going to direct an all-female-cast stage version of Julius Caesar at the Donmar Warehouse to run from the 29th November 2012.  This follows the Royal Shakespeare Company’s production of an all-black, modern African take on Caesar, directed by white male director Gregory Doran began its run on the 8th August and it continues until the 15 September this month.

Because of the lack of powerful female roles found in Shakespearean plays (Juliet is a teenager – one is only left with Queen Margaret in Richard the III or Volumnia in Coriolanus) Phyllida Lloyd see’s a gap for theatrical

“…roles for…women who have spent a lifetime developing an expertise in this extreme sport – the big-hitter classics”.

Harriet Walter will play the star role as Brutus in the Lloyd production.

From a feminist and artist vantage point, I’m looking forward to the show, as a woman’s interpretation of Julius Caesar puts a new and distinct spin on so many lines.  Think about Act 1, Scene 2, line 135:

Why, man, he doth bestride the narrow world
Like a Colossus; and we petty men
Walk under his huge legs, and peep about
To find ourselves dishonourable graves.
Men at some time are masters of their fates:
The fault, dear Brutus, is not in our stars,
But in ourselves, that we are underlings.

As Lloyd as stated, “With women’s voices speaking these words, we’re going to hear new things.”

All Black Julius Caesar. But what about Black women’s representation?

Black women of a particular age have tremendous difficulty finding theatrical work.

Audition flyer for the all-female cast of Julius Caesar. Not one woman of colour or anyone over the age of 30. Photo: New Faces

And in productions that lack a musical element; it’s almost impossible for Black women to get roles. Though I excitedly await this all-female cast – and even the all-black cast –

I wonder, where exactly do Black women fit in?

The precise problem  at the heart of “All the Women are White, All the Blacks are Men but Some of Us are Brave”, the title of the 1982 book edited by Gloria Hull, Patricia Bell Scott and Barbara Smith.

Adjoa Andoh to play Portia in the all Black version of Julius Caesar. The character of Portia has a total of 16 lines.  Brutus, the role Harriet Walter plays in the “all-women” Julius Caesar has 194 lines.

We’ll leave it to you;  should a Shakespearean play be staged with an entire Black women’s cast?  How shall we approach the problem of  Black female visibility in theater? Leave comments!

To buy tickets to the all-Black Caesar: Click here to go to RSC

To buy tickets to the all-Women Caesar: Priority booking opens Sept. 12, with public booking from Oct. 1. Barclays Front Row seats will be released every Monday morning starting Nov. 19. To book tickets, contact the box office on 0844 871 7624, or visit www.donmarwarehouse.com.

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