Women (and men) can take the next step at Agnes Scott to enter the healthcare field.
College graduates can enroll in our post-baccalaureate pre-medical program for additional
courses needed to enter a medical career.
The joys and challenges of theatre at a women’s college
Each time a director ponders a theatre troupe’s next
production, there are many considerations—performance rights, casting and production
design. But at a women’s college like Agnes Scott, a dearth of male performers
adds an interesting challenge to any production.
“The women’s college environment really forces directors and
actors to think more creatively about the production process and the
development of characters,” said Caitlin White ’13, president of The
Blackfriars, Agnes Scott’s student theatre troupe, founded in 1915 and the
oldest producing theatre in Atlanta.
Without male students as active members of the acting troupe
or crew, women’s college theatre programs often cast women in roles originally
envisioned for men, re-imagine the roles as female or cast off gender
conventions all together. So while the gender of the actors may be limited, the
creative possibilities aren’t, White said.
“I think acting at a women’s college is very exciting. Not
only do you get to play male characters, which is something that would not
really be available in another setting, but you also think about your
characters differently than you would otherwise,” White said. “Gender becomes a
less important factor in developing a character, so you really get to focus on
other personality traits and characteristics and really develop the
complexities of a character.”
Women playing every role in a production yields another
opportunity not open to most female actors—the chance to play a canonical lead
role such as Hamlet or Julius Caesar. Past Agnes Scott productions have
featured women playing the lead male role unaltered from the original play,
rather than rewriting names and pronouns to account for a female actor as many
productions do when casting a woman in a traditionally male role.
“I want our students to play the great roles whenever
possible and we try to produce plays in such a way that makes that possible,”
said David Thompson, Annie Louise Harrison Waterman Professor of Theatre and chair
at Agnes Scott. “There’s an example in theatre circles of casting a woman in a
lead role, for instance in ‘The Tempest,’ and renaming the character Prospera
instead of Prospero. I have no problem with that, but I’d like our students to
play Prospero, not Prospera.”
The Blackfriars’ production of Shakespeare’s “The Tempest” cast
women in all the male roles, including Prospero, and cast a man as a Miranda,
the sole female character in the play. As an all-female troupe, the Blackfriars
often challenge and experiment with the gender identities of characters in the
plays they perform, Thompson said.
“There’s a great debate as to what happens when you change
the gender of a role. Some say it simply opens the role to that performer and
others say that there are gender implications that are revealed. Depending on
how we approach the production, either or both of those things can happen,”
When performing more modern plays still protected by copyright
restrictions, Agnes Scott applies for permission to perform the work, just as
all those who perform a play do, but must jump through a few extra hoops to
receive permission to alter the play’s script to accommodate a character’s
gender change or to have a woman perform a male role. That means discussing and
proposing production plans with the publisher, the author’s agent and, if
living, the author herself or himself.
“If you create a compelling proposal, we’ve found that in
the majority of cases, a reasonable request will be considered and even
honored,” Thompson said. “We’ve had good success in creating plays that feature
women from plays that did not previously feature women.”
These extra permissions require more time so you have to
start the ball rolling well in advance when planning a production, White said.
In 2009, the Blackfriars performed Bertold Brecht’s
“Galileo,” a play with around 40 characters but only a handful female. Agnes
Scott approached the publisher about performing the play with an all-female
cast, who then approached Brecht’s son with the proposal. The son said he
believed his father would have loved the idea and told them to proceed,
The Blackfriars haven’t had a request denied in recent
memory, thanks to careful planning about which plays and playwrights are open
to the kinds of changes Agnes Scott needs to make to do a production with an
all-female cast, Thompson said.
“We have not been told ‘no’ but I can think of several
well-known playwrights who would be very likely to tell me ‘no’,” Thompson
Women’s college theatre productions, especially at small
colleges like Agnes Scott, also provide more opportunities for women to work
behind the scenes, directing and handling lighting and set design.
history of theater, women have been underrepresented,” Thompson said. “Most of
the roles are male roles. Most of the actors, directors, designers and
playwrights have been men. So we try to give women the chance to do all of
those things and tackle all of those roles.”