Theatre Prometheus creates diverse, woman-focused productions that examine societal problems and amplify the voices of the marginalized. In this vein, our re-imagining of Shakespeare’s CYMBELINE presents lovers Imogen and Posthumus as a lesbian couple.
This perspective allows us to explore themes of sexuality, homophobia, gender identity, and gender roles. In doing so, the world Shakespeare created is revealed to be very similar to our own, challenging preconceived notions of both classical theatre and what it means to be LGBTQ. Imogen and Posthumus’ journey will resonate deeply with anyone who has ever struggled to come out, as many of us at Prometheus have.
Our adaptation of CYMBELINE will also challenge limitations on the roles women can play in Shakespeare’s plays, in theatre generally, and in our wider society. In the original version, women comprise only about 25% of the cast, and many of those roles are small. We flipped this percentage and cast 70% female actors, giving women access to the rich character arcs and language they are usually denied. Our hope in doing this is that audiences leave the play not thinking “why were these roles played by women?,” but rather asking of other productions, “why can’t these roles be played by women?”
We also chose CYMBELINE simply because of the story itself. The extraordinarily complex plot is funny, sad, silly, scary, and thought-provoking, and at its heart is an earnest joy and love of life that seems quite at odds with the cynical world we live in. It explores a kind of vulnerability that often eludes us -- one that shines a critical light on how we behave in this too-violent world, and asks us “What might happen if I make peace?”
Finally, we are proud to say that this project is immediately actionable: we have fully cast CYMBELINE, recently confirmed a venue at the Anacostia Arts Center, and will begin rehearsals in October. The play itself will run from January 12 to 29.
Funded by Washington, DC (October 2016)