Actors and directors have worked together to present a new view of under-represented charactersMercy Brewer

At the ADC Theatre on Tuesday 22nd at 11pm, (Re)Present monologue night, hitting the stage exclusively for one night, will shine a light on under-represented characters with student-written monologues. Now these characters tell their stories to anyone who will listen – and that’s you.

“Powerful characters like Lady Macbeth and Desdemona are pushed and squeezed to the margins of the stage”

Anna Freeman, the show’s creator, describes how she came up with the idea for (Re)Present: “When reading Renaissance plays, an inescapable situation for Englings especially, the brilliance of their characters is so often undercut by the conditions of their writing. This might be due to the writer’s own prejudices, but it is also symptomatic of the social, cultural, theatrical and religious contexts in which they were being performed.”

“For instance, I was shocked to hear that one of the reasons why female characters receive so little ‘stage time’ in comparison to their male equivalents was because the Renaissance audience felt uncomfortable seeing men dressed as women for extended periods of time. This fact alone could be fuel for a much wider discussion, but due to it, powerful characters like Lady Macbeth and Desdemona are pushed and squeezed to the margins of the stage, allowed only controlled flashes of personality.”

The production aims to bring characters like Romeo and Juliet's Rosaline out of the shadowsCharlotte Bunney

“Indigenous characters were also marginalised and highly subject to stereotype, since non-Christian figures were often presented against Western Christian ideals of nobility, dignity and civilisation. We certainly, and thankfully, do not live with these contexts now, so the powerful kernels that dramatists did sow in their characters can be allowed to properly flourish, or the characters they wrote can be wrenched out of their original contexts and reapplied to our own.”

(Re)Present takes its name for precisely this reason: the show aims to ‘represent’ characters who have been undervalued, stereotyped or ignored, giving them the stage time and agency to ‘speak for themselves’ as much as is possible and also to ‘re-present’ them, acknowledging the canon or precedent and then consciously reappropriating it.

These monologues are promising to include a cocktail of characters from all walks of life. “We have some incredible monologues as part of the show, and I am so grateful to our wonderful writers for taking such time and care to create them,” says Anna. “We have some written in verse, prose, some even written in iambic pentameter! We have characters such as Rosaline, Romeo’s first love, that in the original text had no lines at all, and characters with charged critical and receptive histories, such as Caliban. We have characters on the stand, like Gloriana from The Revenger’s Tragedy, whose skull is the most we would normally see of her onstage, and characters re-evaluating the lives they have led, such as Feste.”

“There are so many characters throughout literary history that are deserving of a fair voice”

This one night stand is a project open to as many people new to Cambridge theatre as possible. “I wanted to keep the process of creating the show as open as possible, with input from passionate individuals to match the commitment of our writers,” says Anna. “Luckily, we had the luxury of allocating each monologue its own director, so audiences will get to see each director’s approach towards their monologue. This is very much a project for people just getting started in Cambridge theatre too. We have a lot of new directors onboard, so I hope the (Re)Present night is a great entryway for them, and they can use the skills and experience they have developed to go onto bigger projects!”


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The versatility of the show means that it could potentially be reinvented in the future, according to Anna. “I think the medium of the show is such that it could be adapted for an emphasis on a different time period’s texts, it could be genre-specific, organised by theme, or any other grouping. It would be incredible if anyone wanted to continue the show in this way, since there are so many characters throughout literary history that are deserving of a fair voice.”

So if you’re up for a late night show of student writing, head down to the ADC Theatre at 11pm on Tuesday 22nd to hear those silent voices speak up.