Gender-Reversed Hamlet?

Helen Mirren just did it for Prospera in Taymor’s Tempest, so why can’t Yvonne Flack do the same with The Suffragette Hamlet, her own “truly new play” that gives her a chance to take on what she considers to be “every classical actor’s dream, and secretly, every actress’s.”

I just never seriously thought I would be able to take on the role until [director Darcie Flansburg] approached me with the idea of a reverse-gender Hamlet.

What boggles my mind is that these students of their art – Ms. Flack’s “entire dissertation is based around non-Western adaptations of the play” – seem not at all interested in mentioning Sarah Bernhardt, the legendary actress who portrayed Hamlet 100 years ago. Does this woman truly believe that a woman can’t play a man’s role?
NOTE – Do NOT miss that Sarah Bernhardt link, where we actually dug up some extraordinarily rare footage of Ms Bernhardt’s fight scene with Laertes, in 1899! How often do you get to see THAT?

4 thoughts on “Gender-Reversed Hamlet?

  1. I've been playing guy roles in Shakespeare all year with my company….And have done some of my best work as Horatio, Prospero, and Speed!

  2. There's all sorts of bits from Hamlet that could potentially take on a different meaning from a female perspective

    "What a piece of work is a man…"

    Maybe too obvious, but an interesting idea nonetheless.

  3. Oh I agree, Katie, and I don't have any particular issues against a gender-reversed Hamlet. I was just surprised that they seemed to be forgetting the fairly obvious example by suggesting that the only way a woman could play Hamlet was in a gender-reverse.

  4. Are they actually forgetting, or did they just not mention it in the article? I thought the actress was just saying that she didn't think that she personally would get the opportunity.

    Good point, Katie W. This production will probably come across as sexist against men to some, haha! (I'm not referring to you, Duane.) Then again, perhaps those who attend or are interested wouldn't be offended.

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