Review: Sweat, Donmar Warehouse - Globalism, the American Dream and human drama in Lynn Nottage's superb play
Review: Circus 1903, Royal Festival Hall - joyous, thrilling and fun

Can we move beyond gender-swapping roles on stage and write better characters for women?

Bernhardt_Hamlet2A theatre announces that a classic male role will be played by a woman and gets a plethora of headlines as a result.

While giving a woman a meaty, lead role is something to be applauded, it exposes the shortcomings in onstage equality in theatre-land.

Gender swapping characters isn't fresh, new and exciting, it's starting to feel overused, calculated and like lip-service. 

Progress in Hollywood

Given the progress Hollywood seems to be making on equality and diversity theatre land needs to up its game.

In fact, recent research shows that films with a female lead have bigger box office takings than those with a male lead so there is also a business case.

Part of the problem is the reliance on regurgitating classic plays which tend to be male-dominated. 

Yes the landscape is changing but slowly - we still have too few female playwrights getting their work on stage, for example - but what we urgently need are more decent roles written for women.

They do exist - Lynn Nottage's Sweat at the Donmar Warehouse is a great example (link to review below) - but it shouldn't feel like a rare treat.

In the meantime, gender-swapping classic roles is starting to feel overused to the point where feels like a cheap marketing ploy.

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Sweat, Donmar Warehouse - Lynn Nottage's superb play about globalism and the American Dream.

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