Gender role reversal highlights student production of ‘Richard III’

Jan. 25, 2016

DeKeveion Glaspie
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The UCCS Theatre Company is presenting “Richard III,” but the play comes with a twist.

The tale about King Richard III’s short, tumultuous reign and quest for the throne will be played by a woman.

The UCCS Theatre Company presents “Richard III” Feb. 5-14. The play will be at the student theater in the Osborne studio theater in University Hall.

Richard (Molly Garrison) who starred in “Tartuffe” will be accompanied by Alex Niforatos and other freshmen.

Rachel Baker is directing the play. Baker explained that while she has experience acting and helped with technical elements of plays, this is the first play she is directing.

Baker added that designers and advisors are guiding her through the process of directing.

“There will be something that I look at and I think it looks fine and they see it and say that’s not reading how you think it is,” said Baker.

Baker added that the idea for swapping gender roles in the play came to her when she studied abroad in London last summer.

With a small number of men in the program, the roles typically played by men had to be played by women.

“I’ve seen several performances of Richard before, it was just the most interesting performance of Richard I have ever seen,” said Baker.

Baker said she became interested in how casting women in male roles changed the dynamics of the play.

The competitiveness of the modeling industry also served as inspiration for her idea.

“I started thinking (about) the modeling world and how that level of competition can really become catty,” Baker said.

“There are a lot of parallels in the play in the way Richard treats people and the way you see women compete with each other, so I thought it would be an interesting way seeing the dynamics of gender conflict and violence and how we treat each other.”

Baker hopes the gender swap allows the audience to think beyond the stage.

“I want to start a conversation. I want people to leave the theater talking about what they’ve just seen and what it means to them and also continue talking about it after. Students should come with an open mind and prepare to think.”

“Richard III” starts at 8 p.m. and will be free for those students who have a student ID and $5 for non-students.