Shakespeare act de­cided by coin toss

Auckland City Harbour News - - YOUR PAPER, YOUR PLACE - HUGH COLLINS

Two young ac­tors are set to have their on­stage char­ac­ters de­cided by a coin toss.

Bron­wyn En­sor and Mur­doch Keane will learn and per­form two char­ac­ters in Shakespeare’s com­edy As You Like It, a play run­ning as part of the an­nual Sum­mer Shakespeare out­door sea­son by the Univer­sity of Auck­land Clock­tower.

A coin will be thrown min­utes be­fore the per­for­mance to de­ter­mine who will play Touch­stone, a male jester, or Au­drey, a coun­try girl.

Keane, 18, said switch­ing roles will help pre­vent their per­for­mances from be­com­ing stale, some­thing which can hap­pen in com­edy the­atre.

‘‘Not know­ing just keeps fresh’’ Keane said.

En­sor, 21, said hav­ing a dif­fer­ent dy­namic each night will keep the cast on their toes.

‘‘I think I was in­trigued to re­hearse a char­ac­ter along­side some­one else play­ing the same char­ac­ter and to see the dif­fer­ences be­tween our in­ter­pre­ta­tions be­cause I haven’t re­ally done that in a proper way.’’

Keane said while the two char­ac­ters get mar­ried, they are an un­likely pair - Au­drey is very sim­ple while Touch­stone is ‘‘sar­donic and de­ri­sive’’.

‘‘I guess it’s the con­trast of the it two that makes them such an in­ter­est­ing thing to switch,’’ Keane said.

Switch­ing the roles has prompted the pair and the plays’ di­rec­tor into dis­cus­sions about gen­der.

‘‘Char­ac­ters in Shakespeare I feel can be quite am­bigu­ous, if they’re not the main ones that ev­ery­one has done a mil­lion times,’’ En­sor said.

Keane has played fe­male roles on stage be­fore and iden­ti­fies as non-bi­nary in his per­sonal life.

This means he doesn’t ex­clu­sively con­nect with be­ing ei­ther fe­male or male.

‘‘I want to ex­press my­self and iden­tify how­ever I want with­out the kind of pres­sures of gen­der stereo­types.’’

As You Like It di­rec­tor Ben­jamin Hen­son said the play is brought into the mod­ern con­text of Eng­land’s iconic Glastonbury mu­sic fes­ti­val and will in­volve a live DJ.

‘‘Bring­ing it into the mod­ern day al­lowed us to have a wider per­spec­tive of gen­der,’’ Hen­son said.

As You Like It runs be­neath the Univer­sity of Auck­land clock­tower from Fe­bru­ary 14 to March 11.

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