Lipscomb’s Theatre department is combining with the Nashville Shakespeare Company to cast an all female cast for a production of Richard II.

As a male and self-proclaimed feminist, director Sean Martin finds the dialogue the play creates around the women valuable.

“In the past though, at least for me, productions were always overshadowed by a desire to portray Richard as effeminate or inherently weak,” Martin said. “My desire was to get rid of all the imposed stereotypes and to simply let us see the human beings at the story’s core. By doing the play with a female cast, I felt I would be able to achieve that effect. If everyone is feminine then no one could be effeminate.”

For those unfamiliar with this rarely referenced Shakespeare play, Richard II is the story of a capricious king, far too concerned with his own finances and arbitrary decisions to consider the emotions of his people. Richard slowly alienates his own subjects, until the common folk welcome a rebellion.

“As humans we are all inherently fallible or flawed,” Martin said. “No one is perfect. Richard personifies that in his struggle to know who and what he is. He is a character that we can all relate to.”

Martin added that the story of Richard II still provides valuable commentary and lessons for society today, despite its composition in the latter part of the 16th century.

“As we explored the script during table work, it actually surprised most of us how relevant this play is today — the overall political themes that it touches on, the power plays, the role of government, taxation, the purpose of warfare, the power and voice of the masses and so much more,” Martin said.

For Martin, the opportunity to direct this production is a dream come true. Within his artistic vision, directing Richard II went hand-in-hand with an all female cast. The combination of The Nashville Shakespeare Company actors with current Lipscomb theater students has facilitated this unique production.

“As far as we know, this will be the first production of Richard II ever to be staged in Nashville,” Martin said. “I also just think opportunities to see productions like this are often rare outside of places like New York or London, and it would be an unfortunate thing to miss it.”

Richard II will run April 13 through 23, and tickets are free to current Lipscomb students.

Photo courtesy of Lipscomb University

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