SHU Theatre Arts Puts Women in the Spotlight in New "Richard III" Production

Sacred Heart University’s Theatre Arts Program (TAP)’s newest production features the classic William Shakespeare play Richard III. The show tells the story of King Richard III’s rise to power in 15th century England.

For a play dominated by powerful and manipulative male characters, the show features an all-female cast. Given that during Shakespearean times, roles were only played by men, this casting has flipped the roles and put the women of TAP in the spotlight.

We sat down with two members of the production, junior Mae Archaki (producer) and senior Delaney Lynch (actor) to find out all about the show!

Richard III features an all-female cast! Can you give us a little backdrop about this casting decision and how it has impacted the nature of the show?

Mae: I think that this casting decision has allowed us to see the show from a different perspective. We see the rise of Richard’s power, and I think it shows a viewpoint of how women are trying to rise to the top as well. This casting decision has been able to send a powerful message in this way. 

 

What has been your favorite part about working on this show as producer?

Mae: Working on this show as producer has been such an incredible experience. I love being able to outreach to different groups to let them know about our production. It’s also great to oversee each department head, such as props and costumes, because I have interests in all these areas. Being a producer, it is your job to make sure every area is working hard and getting their pieces into place. Being involved in all the departments, I get to see each aspect grow and watch as they come together for the final product. 

 

What do you hope this show accomplishes, as far as retelling a classic Shakespearean story in today’s day and age?

Mae: I hope this production shows the audience how much of an impact your actions and words can have on others. Rising up to fight against something you don’t think is right has so much power and you never know who else you can inspire in doing so. 

 

What are some of the challenges you’ve faced preparing for this role? 

Delaney: Everyone has been really supportive of an all-female cast. One of the hardest things is understanding Shakespeare and communicating so that the audience members understand the intentions behind our words. The language itself very hard to understand so really drawing on the motivations behind every scene is key in helping the audience understand the bigger message of the show. Also, understanding the manipulation tactics of Richard and see it be put in the eyes of a woman really changed my perspective on how power can be misused. Given that it is a male-dominated show, preparing for this role really opened my eyes to how vulnerable people can be exploited by male power, even in today’s world. Now that the roles are reversed, it’s really interesting to watch Rebecca (who plays Richard) dig into those tactics and manipulation devices and portray them as a woman. 

 

How has this role been different from any other roles you’ve played at SHU? 

Delaney: This is the first time I’ve ever played a male part. I would say it’s interesting because the way we did it, we never really discussed gender roles going in. We decided we would keep the pronouns the same, keep the story the same and just work on our craft of being able to tell the story in the most authentic way possible. We are viewed by our director as powerful actors, not differentiated as men or women. It’s such a different experience because in previous roles, I’ve had to play to my femininity, and this is the first time I’ve got to explore the emotions and mannerisms of a man. At the end of it all, our director really wants us to bring our authentic selves into the role and still tell a classic Shakespearean story.

 

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In today’s modern day society, female empowerment continues to gain traction. SHU’s production of this play definitely is a step in that direction.

Richard III opens tomorrow night! The show runs this entire weekend on November 14th, 15th and 16th at 8pm and on November 17th at 3pm. You won’t want to miss SHU’s talented ladies absolutely ~kill it~ in this production!