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ENGLAND’ challenges gender roles on stage

Photo Courtesy of Chris Dorsen

In the ancient days of theater, and even into Shakespearian and Renaissance times, it was typical for male actors to portray female characters. In modern times, it is normal to expect men and women to appear on stage, but it’s still unusual to see a male and female actor appear simultaneously as the same character.

The play “ENGLAND,” which will be performed at the Wexner Center Galleries Nov. 17-21, does just that. The play has been presented all over the United States and in Scotland, but only in an art gallery format.

Chuck Helm, director of Performing Arts at the Wexner Center, said it wouldn’t be the same thing if performed in a regular theater.

“If someone is interested in theatre, they probably already know that the Wexner Center brings things that are truly unique in the country,” Helm said.

Helm said the play has done well everywhere else, adding he expects it to do well here too.

“ENGLAND” won a Fringe First Award at the world’s largest arts festival, The Edinburgh Festival Fringe, located in Scotland.

It comes to OSU as a part of a tour that includes: New York City, Portland, Minneapolis, New England, Boston, Dartmouth College and a theatre in Burlington, Vt.

“I think it will be received terrifically,” he said. “It’s a great piece of writing… there is a big surprise people will definitely respond to.”

The Wexner Center Galleries will set the site of the play, which consists of a two-person cast of Tim Crouch and Hannah Ringham.

In the play, gender is not defined and things get interesting when the character talks about a boyfriend.

“Is this a straight couple, a gay couple, you don’t really know,” Helm said. “It creates a different type of dynamic about who is this character.”

Crouch and Ringham trade off lines as the play develops and Helm said it puts the viewer a little bit off balance.

At times during the play they stand in front of the viewer as the same character and speak in unison.

“Experimentation is the main thrust of what the artist is involved with,” Helm said. “Fresh perspective of what theatre is and where theatre can happen.”

“It gives you a chance to widen your perspective of the world and helps you build knowledge,” Helm said. “It helps provide an understanding of other cultures and other ideas from all aspects of the world.”

The play is 90 minutes, split into two acts. It will be shown at 8 p.m. on Nov. 17 and Nov. 18 and at 9 p.m. Nov 19-21.

Tickets are available online and in the Wexner ticket office. Tickets are $16 for general public, $14 for Wexner members and $10 for students.

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