A performance of the smash-hit "Emilia" at Shakespeare's Globe. twitter.com/emiliatheplay

International Women’s Day may have passed, but that is no reason to stop celebrating the stories of women; we are still in the midst of Women’s History Month, after all. International, historical, or otherwise, theatre gives these a platform, and even the pandemic-directed transition to a digital stage cannot suppress female voices. A virtual auditorium has in fact helped theatre to become a more accessible space for a wider range of women. Why not make the most of it and watch one of these ten pieces of theatre available for free – or for very little – this Women’s History Month?

“Remaining within the realm of the historical - what else for Women’s History Month? - are various inspiring productions created by and for women.”

Having a busy end of term and don’t have the time to commit to a full two-hour play? Monologues are an ideal option. Amongst those specially curated for Women’s History Month is the Old Vic’s One Hand Tied Behind Us, available on YouTube until the end of March. Six monologues make up this diverse selection gathered by Maxine Peake; standouts include Kit de Waal’s “Imagine That”, a palpably painful expression of the government’s persecution of working class mothers, and Jeanette Winterson’s “Mother’s Little Helper”, a more light-hearted reflection on access to birth control. Another similarly varied and original collection is Oh Woman, available on the Royal Exchange Theatre’s website, which describes its six monologues as ‘audio experiences’ which ultimately celebrate ‘the ingenuity of women’, particularly proven in the binaural Transgressive, a commemoration to musician and queer icon SOPHIE, who recently passed away. If you’re looking for something longer, but equally as poignant, BBC iPlayer hosts an intimate trilogy of monologues entitled Sugar. Detailing the lives of three vulnerable yet unimaginably resilient women, the thirty-minute monologues were written by the Open Clasp Theatre Company in collaboration with women whose stories are so often left untold by society, yet so desperately need to be heard: women who are in prison, on probation, or without housing.

“...make some time to listen to, support and enjoy the stories of women and the voices of female theatre-makers...”

If you prefer classics, what can appeal more so than Shakespeare? By signing in to Digital Theatre+ with a student email, you can freely access both The Taming of the Shrew and The Merry Wives of Windsor. Whilst Shakespeare is neither the most obvious nor suitable candidate for a celebration of women in theatre, it is the female directors and performers who have recently reimagined two of his comedies that deserve this recognition. The RSC’s 2019 production of The Taming of the Shrew offers a gender-swapped performance of what is often named Shakespeare’s most misogynistic play, resulting in an innovative examination of gender and power. Again from the RSC comes The Merry Wives of Windsor, directed by Fiona Laird in 2018, which is a chaotically joyful staging of this tale of female wit.

The original cast of "One Hand Tied Behind Us" following a performance at the Old Vic in 2018. twitter.com/oldvictheatre


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Remaining within the realm of the historical – what else for Women’s History Month? – are various inspiring productions created by and for women. An alternative perspective on Shakespeare arrives in the form of the only show in this list which is not free to watch, Emilia. A minimum donation of £1 will, for the rest of March, give you online access to this Olivier Award winning play, described as ‘extraordinarily rousing’ when reviewed by The Independent. With a fully female cast, it imagines the life of Emilia Bassano, the suggested ‘dark lady’ of Shakespeare’s sonnets, passionately voicing her own story, this time from her own perspective. Returning to monologues, and once more available on Digital Theatre+, 15 Heroines is a selection of fifteen, delivered in three instalments: “The War”, “The Desert”, “The Sea”. The fifteen monologues, inspired by Ovid’s letters and written by British female playwrights, inventively depict the women of Greek Mythology, from Sappho to Medea, a particularly striking performance of Phaedra’s monologue majestically realised by Doña Croll. For a two-hour escape into a more recent history, Digital Theatre+ provides a play that, although directed by the male Howard Zinn, recounts the revolutionary life of feminist and anarchist, Emma Goldman, committed to its exploration of her unwavering political bravery.

Whatever you decide to watch, whether Hazel Ellis’ boarding school drama Women Without Men – a witty ensemble piece available on the Mint Theater Company website – or Mohan Rakesh’s Hindi feminist play Adhe Adhure (a tale of female endurance shown on Digital Theatre+), make some time to listen to, support and enjoy the stories of women and the voices of female theatre-makers this Women’s History Month.