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Stamford based all-female theatre troupe to take on Macbeth

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Shakespeare once said 'all the world's a stage, and all the men and women merely players' - but one theatre troupe has done away with the males completely.

Proving that girl power shows no signs of stopping, Stamford and London based all-female theatre company Players will be bringing one of the bard's works alive next month when they take to the stage.

The group, which was created by artistic director Beckis Cooper, will be performing Macbeth at Prebendal Manor in Nassington after having put on their inaugural show - Twelfth Night - last year.

Twelfth Night
Twelfth Night

Beckis, who is working alongside fellow director Lisa Miller, said: "I always had a dream to set up an all-female Shakespeare company and when lockdown hit last year, a few Shakespeare jobs of mine were cancelled.

"I thought 'what do I do now?' and decided to go for it. It started out as just readings then it grew to what we are now!"

The idea behind the troupe grew after Beckis' desire to play what she feels are greatest roles, rather than the typical positions women usually fall into.

This summer, Beckis will be taking on the role of Macbeth along with seven other members of the theatre company, and she is looking forward to the challenge.

She is no stranger to Shakespeare or the stage, having performed several roles in the bard's plays and having seen her work grace stages at events such as the Stamford Georgian Festival and Edinburgh Fringe Festival.

The Players
The Players

She said: "Shakespeare has written some good women but they fall into the category of witch, old bag, hag or 20-year-old love interest and we are just pigeon-holed as usual.

"I think the greatest roles - comedy and tragic - are male and I feel like it's time for us to have a go at some of these amazing roles and not let the gender bother us.

"We're not deliberately excluding the males but it's more a case of 'how interesting can we make this?'.

"With Macbeth, everyone's either a warrior or a fighter so it's a real challenge. I'm playing him as a man but obviously I'm a woman so I'm exploring elements of masculinity.

"It's more of whether you can buy into it even though you're looking at a woman on stage."

All the roles will be played by women
All the roles will be played by women

Beckis, who has taught at the Stamford High School and acted with the Stamford Shakespeare Company at Tolethorpe, hopes the group can perform more as time goes on.

She said:"It's fun and we're getting a lot of interest so it would be good to do more.

"The idea is that anything can be done.

"We'd love to do one of the history plays next, maybe Richard III or Henry V, because I think they're the best roles in Shakespeare. I'm pretty sure we could pull it off."

The Players will be putting the show on outside again on August 28, which Becky believes gives a magical feel to the performance - and they'll be wearing traditional dress.

Beckis added: "Playing outside there's something magical and visceral about it - you can't beat it.

"To be amongst nature is pretty special.

Players performed Twelfth Night last year
Players performed Twelfth Night last year

"We won't be in full Elizabethan dresses but period shirts and dark trousers like a company of players would have worn in Shakespeare's time.

"If playing a woman might have a neck collar or some jewellery but the idea is that we are quite uniform which, hopefully, will help people to see past gender."

For more information, visit www.playersshakespeare.com

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