Playing the Other Gender


So, in this work, none of us are playing the gender we are. For some of us it’s not the first time. When we started the company we stumbled through this idea of playing the opposite gender, wanting to to explore this work and making choices; some good, some not so good.

So here we are today with a cast trying to become the other sex.We just finished a workshop with Rami Margron an amazing actor and dancer. She has had experience portraying boys and men off and on, and has worked with Woman’s Will. We had a session called “Finding Your Inner Man or Dude”. From start to finish Rami was amazing. What was different for her was we had the men in the company attend as well. It was a great eye opener about how my sex behaves physically and I know that all the men in the company got as much out of the session as the women did. The insight into posture, and gesture, as well as voice and greeting, was extremely informative. For me, it informed me how to approach certain characters and how to observe as a director. Im really thankful that we were able to bring her in.


Playing a woman and what it means to me.

The first time I dabbled in this work was in school at the Drama Studio of London at Berkeley. We did the first act of Cloud Nine by Carol Churchill. The second time was with Company Chaddick in which we did a sight specific work in the ball room of the old dance space on Oak street in S.F., now the Institute for Music. Act One had us all in mens’ formals, Act Two had us all in female formals, and the last act was mix and match. We got to be big physically, without make up, but really on the verge of drag; high comedy at points.

With my own company I’ve played Viola in our all male Twelfth Night. Let me start by saying she is my hero. I love her spirit, and it helped that I spent all of the play dressed as a boy, so not really a stretch. I had to be in love with Orsino, also not a big leap, being queer falling for a man is not foreign to me.

But now I’m playing Emilia in my production of Othello. So it’s incredibly important that the women and men don’t play stereotypes of the gender they’re portraying. They need to come across as real people.

What is it like to be a woman surrounded by men in a military setting? What is it like to be a woman suspected of being unfaithful with no allies?


How do we look?

Working with my costume designer, Liz Martin we have been going back and forth, I don’t want anything that even hints at drag. We have struggled a little with Desdemona, but we found Emilia right away.

It’s funny the things I think of that I don’t think of when playing a man. I want her to look better than I do. I’m fiercely protective of the character. I want to present her in the best light. I find my reaction fascinating. Is it my male side coming to her defense? Is it my queer side wanting her to look her best? I haven’t found the answer yet but will let you know when I do.

As I approach her as a physical being, what is her stance, her gesture, her voice? As an attendant to Desdemona what do you do? You look at the courts of Elizabeth the First, or any royal assembly. You wait until you are needed, you are there to serve. How does this inform your physical stance on stage, your posture, how direct is she?

Im exploring and if you want to see the result come and see us. We open at the end of the month; Thursday, Feb. 28th is our preview, and Fri. March 1st is our gala opening. The website for dates and times is http://www.b8company.com


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