Rin wrote…

My theatre department won’t let me play male roles. I’m an actor. My life is already about pretending to be things I’m not. Why can’t I be what I am?

What’s your experience?

And what are you thinking about gender right now?

Posted by on October 16th, 2009 at 08:00 am

Category: your voice 9 comments »

9 Responses to “Actor.”

  1. Anonymous

    Wow. I’m an opera/musical theater singer and this really resonates with me.


  2. Andy

    Recently I joined Drama at my school and we’ve discussed doing plays. Because I’m still establishing my gender beyong the “Not Girl” line, I’m not very out about it. We broke up into groups of boys and girls three times this week. I decided that instead of acting I’d just be a stage hand because I don’t know how to explain my own gray area.


  3. Erica (The Photo Curator)

    This seems strange to me. There are already traditions of men playing female roles in theatre, and vice versa, right? (Sadly the only things that come to mind are Peter Pan and the role of Tracy’s mom in Hairspray, but I’m sure there are more.) I’ve also seen a lot of my local theatre troops mix things up a little during monologues and short plays.

    So what’s their reasoning behind not letting you play male roles?


  4. Rin

    @Anonymous: Yikes, I bet it’s even more difficult for singers. I sing a bit, and I wanted to audition as a guy for the Gilbert & Sullivan show this year because my tenor range is more solid than my soprano range.

    @Andy: rock on, gray areas. (Even though they are hard to explain.) If you want to act, I’d say think about characters’ other traits to decide who you want to play, and not worry about what sex they are.

    @Erica: The head of the department is just not okay with cross-gender casting in either direction. She thinks that the audience won’t believe it and won’t really identify with the character. I mean, I think she’s wrong, but I have to pick my battles. They do cross-gender casting at the graduate program I want to go to and in the theatre company I want to work at, so I just have to get through the rest of this year.


  5. Anonymous

    (I’m the same person who posted comment 1)

    Yeah, it’s tough. I’m a soprano who would frequently prefer to play male roles. There is a tradition of pants roles in opera, but they are virtually always played by mezzos. It seems that I’m going to have to settle for playing a lot of female “character” roles, who aren’t as highly sexed – because that at least is better than playing the female romantic lead, which would make me very uncomfortable.

    My dream roles are gender-bending characters like Victor/Victoria, though, so it’s not all bad. If I always wanted to play heroic tenors I might be out of luck unless I found directors willing to do cross-gender casting and let me sing them in my own octave.


  6. Andy

    I’m a mimic. It doesn’t matter to me what personality traits they have because I unconsciously accept that role as a temporary influence on myself. I just don’t want ones where I’d be presenting as female.


  7. Anonymous

    Go improv. :/


  8. Joey

    I’m in the drama department at my school and we’re getting ready to do -oh, the irony- Guys and Dolls. Could there BE a more gender bianary play??

    Much to my dissapointment, I was cast in a sterotypical female role because of my body, despite the fact that the director needs a soprano voice (which I have) in many of the all-male musical numbers. Though I’ve spoken to her about it, she refuses to let me play a male and insists I either play a female role or not perform.

    Frustrating! I feel your pain!


  9. Marion

    That’s ridiculous and sad, I’m sorry. I can sort of see what the head of the department means about the characters not atbeing ‘believable’, but I think that in most cases it doesn’t work that way. In July I played Dr. Einstein in Arsenic and Old Lace, and a number of strangers have told me that they didn’t realize I wasn’t physically male until they saw me out of costume. I love acting partly because on stage, gender is much more blurred. Everyone is wearing makeup and everyone is in character, regardless of whether they physicallt match their role in real life.


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