Recently it was announced that Macbeth would be on at the Manchester’s Royal Exchange theatre. Unlike usual, this play has led to lots of controversy, as the main part of Macbeth is being played by a woman. This shows the play to be a pioneer for gender-equality in theatre, as actors tried out for the parts they wanted, not that their gender lead them to audition for. However many critics dislike this decision (I can assure you most of these are men) even though as the Royal Exchange artistic director Sarah Frankcom said: “Up until the 20th century, there was a massive tradition of women playing this role.”
Then why are people so against another gender playing this role?
The link between West Side Story, William Shakespeare and The Apprentice’s theme tune, there’s hardly an area of our culture in which the tragic tale of Romeo and Juliet hasn’t made an appearance. Although Shakespeare can be credited with turning the plot into common knowledge of the British public, the origins of the story can be traced back to an Italian novella written over five hundred years ago. But how did Romeo’s declaration of love to Juliet ‘Did my heart love till now? forswear it sight! For I ne’er saw true beauty till this night.’ in 1597 become – in the lyrics of a song by Dire Straits in 1981 – ‘you and me babe, how about it?’