Theatre in Wales

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Wales Millennium Centre to present all-female production of Richard III     

Wales Millennium Centre to present all-female production of Richard III

Wales Millennium Centre is to utilise its vast roof void as a performance space for the first time when it presents an all-female version of Richard III, 10 - 23 Feb 2015. The alternative performance space will provide the perfect setting for this boundary pushing adaptation that aims to challenge preconceived ideas about how and where Shakespeare should be staged.

Produced by Omidaze Productions in association with Wales Millennium Centre, this all-female production of Shakespeare, performed in an unconventional theatre space, promises to offer a unique and memorable audience experience, shed new light and perspective on Shakespearian text and engage new audiences.

While there is a strong history in the UK of men playing women, and all-male Shakespeare productions remain common place and acceptable, women playing men still remains very much in the minority. Through adopting the unusual approach of presenting an all-female production, especially of a play often viewed as a vehicle for a male-star and contains over forty male characters, Omidaze’s production of Richard III seeks to challenge these conventions.

By only using women for every role, both on and off stage, the production is also working to advance women’s equality in the theatre industry and raise awareness around employment equality for women in an industry where less than 30% of the creative talent is female, even though women make up 68% of theatre audiences.

Director of Richard III, Yvonne Murphy, who is passionate about making Shakespeare accessible and engaging to new audiences, has said: ‘I firmly believe that the status of women in theatre effects and reflects the status of women in society. We want to be provocative with regard to getting women’s voices heard, and that in order to give women the room and forum to express themselves artistically we must take affirmative action. One of the ways we trying to do this is by attempting to normalise the playing of male parts by women.’

Artistic Director at Wales Millennium Centre, Graeme Farrow, commented: ‘I’m extremely excited to see Wales Millennium Centre’s roof void used as a performance space for the first ever time. It’s the perfect alternative setting for a play that seeks to challenge preconceptions about theatre. It’s also wonderful to be working in association with Omidaze in leading the way to increased roles for women in theatre both on and off stage.’

Omidaze Productions aims to engage a non-traditional theatre going audience and break down barriers to accessing theatre, Shakespeare and the arts generally. One of the ways they intend to do this is through their Open Rehearsal Strategy, which they trialled in the Production Development phase. Omidaze will take rehearsals into over eight schools in Cardiff and the Vale of Glamorgan in identified areas of deprivation and allow between 250 - 800 young people access to a professional production. Through this they aim to create a sense of empowerment, entitlement and ownership of what is sometime still perceived as an ‘elite’ art form.

Richard III forms one of the events leading up to WOW Caerdydd, a festival celebrating, provoking and expressing female achievements, struggles and future challenges taking place in March 2015.

Richard III is at Wales Millennium Centre 10 Feb - 23 Feb 2015, (Preview performance 9 Feb 2015). Tickets are priced at £12 (preview £9). Matinee performances available. Age guidance 10+. For more information and to book tickets visit www.wmc.org.uk or call the ticket office on 02920 636464.
 
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