“Had I been there, which am a silly woman”: Dealing with gendered casting in an Australian tertiary setting

Kim Durban

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Margaret of Anjou’s reference to herself as a ‘silly woman’ in Henry VI is a political ploy to draw attention to her gender, yet indicate her limitless power in the face of male dominance. This paper will map the trajectory of repertoire selection in my 18 years of working as a director and artistic director of actor training in the regional city of Ballarat. I have witnessed a profound shift in the demographic, political and financial realities that shape my practice. Intake numbers have doubled; the age of candidates has dropped; mental health problems for young actors have increased and budgets have plummeted. After the main struggle to maintain adequate studio time in order to create effective models of actor pedagogy, gender considerations follow. When choosing repertoire for training purposes, issues of equity and the cultural appropriateness of repertoire and teaching tools arise. Linda Walsh Jenkins and Susan Ogden -Malouf suggest ‘a feminist critique of theatre shifts the gaze from product to process’. In Ballarat I have programmed female playwrights and directors, double-cast women and men, and staged obscure classical works. I will explore the queries to actor-training orthodoxy inherent in such choices and the challenges faced by actor-trainers working in a #MeToo environment.


Actor Training; Gender; Regional; Pedagogy; Director; Repertoire

To cite this article

Durban, Kim. “‘Had I been there, which am a silly woman’: Dealing with gendered casting in an Australian tertiary setting.” Fusion Journal, no. 15, 2019, pp. 142-153. http://www.fusion-journal.com/had-i-been-there-which-am-a-silly-woman-dealing-with-gendered-casting-in-an-australian-tertiary-setting/

First published online: March 2019

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