A new theatre company is entering the independent space this month with their inaugural production, Coriolanus, which is already causing excitement given its all female cast. Co-founders of the company, Elisa Armstrong and Jo Booth, have very firm philosophies about the role of their new company wherein they hope to create interesting, dynamic, thought-provoking theatre. There is also the strong desire to empower woman within the creative arena. “Let’s present women as they are, not as they are interpreted through the male gaze,” says Armstrong.
Shakespeare’s Coriolanus sees the company taking a play with a hyper-masculine world and flipping it on its head. Armstrong’s view is to show the Bard’s work in a new light without resorting to a butchering of the language. “We want to reveal, rather than rebel.” she says.
Not everyone will agree with this re-imagining of Shakespeare but, states Booth, everyone is entitled to their opinion. For Booth, the great thing about Shakespeare (aside from the fact that his ideas about love, power, family, war, what it is to be human, are just as relevant and brilliant today) is that every interpretation of his work is different.
“In recent times, there have been more productions with all-female casts (Julius Caesar, Taming of the Shrew, Henry V). And why not? Let’s see what happens when women are put in these roles… What happens to the relationships? The ideas? How does the meaning of the words change? It’s not about women trying to be men. It’s a fascinating exploration,” states Booth.
Armstrong is a graduate of Drama Centre, London, training at RADA, while Booth is a graduate of 16th Street Actors Studio, training at LAMDA in London, Karl Bury Studio in NYC, Red Stitch Actors Theatre and Howard Fine Acting Studio. The actors met in a reading of a Shakespeare play and quickly understood their creative kinship, love of the theatre and desire for collaborative work. Their hope is to continue to work on classical and new work, with, of course, a strong desire to push the female perspective.
It is, perhaps, fitting that Heartstring is launched with a Shakespearean work in honour of the fortuitous meet of its founders. Beyond the first production of a classical work with an all-female cast lies a a more contemporary play with roles for both women and men. Armstrong and Booth’s hope, as a company, is to create work that is meaningful to both themselves and the audience.
April 27 – May 8