Question: To be or not to be — a girl

Lain asks…

I used to act in stage plays back when I was Cis presenting. I would love to get back involved in shows, but now as a masculine presenting gq woman I am cautious to get back involved. Which gendered parts do I audition for? While I would probably feel more comfortable in a masculine role, my voice sounds less than masculine and costuming could get to be quite interesting as I have a very feminine body type under all the men’s clothing. I have faced this dilemma in contemplating going back into dance as well.

I guess what it will come down to is me auditioning to whichever roles I feel drawn to regardless of gender and just go for it.

Has anyone ever been through similar situations? Anyone have advice?

Please post your response in the comments below.

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Posted by on April 29th, 2013 at 08:00 am

Category: questions 4 comments »

4 Responses to “Question: To be or not to be — a girl”

  1. Mal

    As a gender queer, female bodied, masculine presenting actor and performer. I have struggled with this question. You were right when you said that you should audition for the roles that you are drawn to. Never feel ashamed or afraid to audition for the roles that you want. To many times people try to pigeon hole us into specific roles. If someone tells you that you’re a character actor, great, but forget it because theater is art and you can do WHATEVER you want to do in art! I have found that frequently the performance world is thought of as solely based on the looks of others. However, I have found that to be a misconstrued thought. (Don’t get me wrong you will come across people that are very much stuck in hetetonormative casting, as well as none color blind casting, but you don’t want to be with them anyways because chances are they’re not doing the interesting stuff!) The theatre world is rapidly evolving, exploring and disregarding people’s thoughts on gender, age and race. Also if you end up playing both female and male roles (as well as anything in-between) it just makes you an even more flexible performer! Great for you!
    There are lots of tools that you can use to further an exploration of characters in regards to making any age or gender believable. If you haven’t checked out any type of theatrical movement theory training already that would be a great thing to start exploring! Such as Laban, Lecoq or Karin Abromaitis’s PLAA (Physical Language Analysis for Actors) theory.
    So go be your awesome self, make great theatre and have fun! All while being true to who you are! If you want to talk about this further (or anyone else really…) let me know in the comments and I’ll give you my contact info or something. I have found that us gender queer actors are spread out and would be super down for continuing this conversation with anyone! As well as establishing some kind of online community for us performers who have to struggle with this question when it comes to our art!


    tigr replied:

    Hey, thanks for your comment (really interesting!), and I think it’d be great if you’d have that conversation on our forum — I’m not an actor_ess, so not sure how I could contribute, but I’d definitely love to follow your discussion! (And I think it’d be very applicable to “real life” as well…)


  2. Cat

    I’ve posted something about this (twice) on the forum, too, actually. Don’t let labels define you or restrain you from doing what you want– neither the “female” label that people tag you with, nor the “genderqueer” label you’ve accepted. Instead, do what feels best for you. You many even be able to get a relatively genderless role if you’re doing more mythical plays (where you can be an elf, a pixie, or a goblin, for instance).
    You don’t have to come out as trans* to ensure your comfort. You can simply tell the director that you don’t like wearing dresses, for instance, or that you prefer to play male roles.
    Good luck!


  3. MelDrake

    Hi Mal!

    I’m female-bodied and genderqueer identified, and I do lots of theater. I usually audition for male roles even though I’m still mainly closeted and present as feminine (or at least don’t make any extra effort to hide my body). I’ve actually found that with the right theater company in the right area, it’s quite easy to get cross-cast. After all, it’s something that’s been happening in theater for hundreds of years! I’m just carrying on Shakespeare’s proud traditions, right?

    I do find it easier in musicals though, as in small community theater groups at least it can be hard to find enough male tenors. I feel like most shows I see around here have at least 1 female tenor as par for the course, so I can do that since I’ve naturally got a lower voice.

    As for appearing male onstage, that can be a challenge (I’m quite curvy), but a looser pair of trousers does well to hide my hips, and then I can bind my chest, and draw on some facial hair (eyeliner pencils work well for a beard that reads at a distance) it usually works out.

    I know that in with some directors it may be more of a challenge, but in my experience, auditioning for male roles has sort of been my way of expressing my masculinity in a socially-acceptable way without having to actually “come out” to everyone.


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