The Smooth-Faced Gentlemen are innovators. Creating “fresh, fast, and faithful productions of Shakespeare with entirely female casts”, this touring company aim to shed new light on Shakespeare’s classics by playing with the single female gender viewpoint; “convention as a lens to cast a new light on these well know plays, challenging audiences to take a fresh look at Shakespeare’s wonderful stories”.
As female empowerment goes, it’s safe to say that the ladies of the Smooth-Faced Gentleman are breaking down boundaries in a unique way. Working to put a new spin on well-known plays, the audience reconnects with Shakespeare in a fresh way; sometimes all we need as an audience is a different way of looking at the world. By utilising their gender and ensuring that the female voice is the one that stands out, they are empowering women everywhere.
The Gentlemen say on their website “our audience come to our work expecting to be affected by the absence of male actors. Our audience leave affected by the story, the interpretation, the staging, the pace, and the fresh take on Shakespeare’s wonderful tales”. As a group, they suggest that they don’t aim to project any particular message in their work, but, without a doubt, they do. In projecting the female essence on stage, they provide an outlet for artistic and creative expression.
There is also the question of race; in bending one aspect of what is considered normal theatrical practice, it is easy to assue that they would cast blindly in terms of race. But, following the racial influences that Shakespeare intended; in the recent production of the tragic ‘Othello’, the titular role was played by an incredibly talented black actor, who brought a nuanced performance that is sometimes lost by casting a male actor.
That’s the other thing that stands out with this company. They are the Gentlemen, not the Gentlewomen. They blur the lines between the genders. They are actors and actresses. They stand by their ethos in bringing their work to new audiences, no matter who they are or where they stand. They prove that if you dedicate yourself to changing something, bringing something new to the table, you can suceed.
Smooth Faced Gentlemen is run with support from theatre troupe Three’s Company, the Anomalous Visuals collective, and the IdeasTap Creative Space programme.