YELLOW SCENE: Faces of Summer: Swapping Genders at the Colorado Shakespeare Festival
(Above: Emelie O’Hara and Lindsey Kyler as Dromia of Ephesus and Syracuse. Photo by Jennifer M Koskinen.)
Are women funny? Geoff Kent thinks so. “I am married to a hilarious woman. I’m firmly aware of how funny women are,” he says. As director for the Colorado Shakespeare Festival’s A Comedy of Errors, Kent has had the opportunity to explore women in comedy, specifically in Shakespearean comedy.
Since 1958 The Colorado Shakespeare Festival (CSF) has been taking over Boulder for a few months every summer, offering up four works by the Bard (and one other show, usually inspired by his works.) This time round the Festival offers a unique production of A Comedy of Errors with the genders swapped and the setting transported to jazzy 1930’s Paris. “This hilarious new production bends the classic adventure of mistaken identities in a different direction that puts the women in charge… and the men in their places” explains the festival website, and this new production is sure to put a smile on your face.
“Every year when we audition the Shakespeare Festival we always have a wealth of female talent that we turn away because it’s a male dominated structure that is difficult to crack,” Kent explains of the decision to swap genders in A Comedy of Errors. “We are certainly not the first to do it either… there is a company in California that does all their shows 50 percent women.” There was even a totally gender-swapped version of The Taming of the Shrew in Denver this past January by Lost and Found Productions. For this Festival A Comedy of Errors proves that the fluidity of gender and the ability to think creatively can prove to be a very powerful tactic when approaching Shakespeare. “Women don’t get to do Shakespeare as often as they should, so that is really why we did it and it’s working great. We’ve adjusted the language to support it so all the he’s become she’s… but we haven’t re-written any text other than gender pronouns.”