Lisa Wolpe reprises her Shakespeare and gender show

The LGTB activist and director will present her solo show blending biography and the Bard

Prague Shakespeare Company is presenting artist and activist Lisa Wolpe in a single performance of her one-woman show, Shakespeare and the Alchemy of Gender will be at Divadlo Na Pradle on July 7 at 7 pm.

She was in Prague in November with the same show for a limited run. The show combines parts of her own life, her experiences with gender identity and her efforts to open up some of Shakespeare's best male roles to a more diverse group of people.

It has played in across the US and Canada, as well as in London and at Shakespeare’s birthplace in Stratford-Upon-Avon.

Wolpe claims that Shakespeare’s plays were created for gender-bending, with the original company being all-male. But women have not always been allowed to play male roles. In Shakespeare’s time, the act of females performing or writing for the stage was illegal.

But now, the idea can be explored in the form of all-female productions, gender-swapped roles and other permutations.

The show has played to good reviews in the UK and US.

“Her greatest legacy will undoubtedly be her creative vision and determination to create a platform and a voice for women, minorities and now the growing trans community in theatre. Theatre inspires, it gives hope to a generation who will, sooner than they think, be given the keys to these theatres and told ‘now it’s your turn’. When this time comes these new guardians can look back at those pioneers like Wolpe who will make this future possible, a future that’s fair and doesn't see gender, colour, sexuality,” UK-based New Current said in its five-star review.

TheaterScene.net gave the show a positive review. “Wolpe quite adeptly offers rich characterizations of some of those most illustrious roles. In addition she seamlessly switches to delivering revelatory reminiscences and concise analysis of the plays with élan that recalls Spalding Gray’s monologues. The combination of these elements yields to a wonderful performance,” Darryl Reilly said for TheaterScene.net.

The New York Times preferred her storytelling to the snippets of acting. “The alchemy of gender that the show’s title mentions is more evident in Ms. Wolpe’s stories — and in her remarks about male actors routinely playing female characters in Shakespeare’s time — than in her channeling the words of Richard III or Henry V,” the NYT review stated.

Wolpe is an internationally acclaimed LGTB activist, theater artist, actor, and director working for the empowerment of women and diversity on the stage. She addresses liberation from what she calls the “gender box” of expectations.

Since 1993 she has been the founding producing artistic director of the all-female Los Angeles Women’s Shakespeare Company, where she produces, directs, and has performed roles including Hamlet, Richard III, Angelo, Leontes, Romeo, Shylock, and Iago.

She has directed and acted regionally at theaters including Oregon Shakespeare Festival, Colorado Shakespeare Festival, Berkeley Repertory Company, Arizona Theater Company and San Diego Repertory Theater. She has also taught and directed at universities including NYU, UCLA, USC, Whittier College, ACT San Francisco, Boston University, MIT and University of Colorado.

For more information, visit www.pragueshakespeare.com/events

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