The Truth about Goats
In a commitment to addressing inequality, English theatres have agreed to an extensive programme of gender-neutral plays and musicals. Hoping to bolster the number of female actors on stage, London’s West End will host Wilde’s ‘The Importance of Being Chantelle’, Shakespeare’s ‘Romeo and Juliet…live with Sally and Margaret’ and Robert Bolt’s ‘A Man for All Seasons but a Woman for all the Days ending in Y’.
Inclusive casting will hopefully eliminate gender perceptions, yet critics have suggested that arbitrary quotas in art are a self-defeating process. Naturally there has been a counter argument that men will become disenfranchised; needing productions such as ‘Who’s Afraid of Roger McGough?’ and ‘A Doll’s House filled with Action Man Toys’.
Others claim that theatres have not gone far enough; one civil rights activist said: ‘Theatre should reflect modern society. Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead but not through any lifestyle choices. Who are we to judge if they choose to co-habit? We need to see Arthur Miller’s ‘All my children-of-various-sexual-orientations’.’ Whereas Erica Whyman, the RSC’s deputy artistic director, expressed concern that some altered texts like Synge’s ‘The Playgirl of the Western World’ may be counter-productive when enhancing women’s rights.
A spokeswoman for the Almeida theatre said ‘George Bernard Shaw’s ‘Arms and the Man’ is clearly sexist and discriminating against amputees. ‘A Death of a Salesman’ could easily have been a role for a woman, if a woman had wanted that job. Personally I think working in sales is not particularly aspirational. Doctor Faustus on the other hand – I didn’t mean hand. Sorry. I’m not prejudice against people with one hand. I’m – oh hell. Maybe we should just stick to Molière’s Misanthrope – it’s just easier to hate everyone’.