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Edmonton production of Henry V will feature woman lead

Brynn Linsey taking the lead for Shakespeare classic at Holy Trinity church.

Brynn Linsey is portraying Henry V in a production running this month at Holy Trinity Anglican Church.

Kevin Tuong / Metro Order this photo

Brynn Linsey is portraying Henry V in a production running this month at Holy Trinity Anglican Church.

It certainly wouldn’t fly in Shakespeare’s day.

An Alberta woman is putting a spin on the Shakespearean tradition of male actors playing women, by reversing the role.

Brynn Linsey will be one of the first woman to portray Henry V in a professional theatre production in Canada according to London, UK-Based The Malachites – who are co-producing the play with Edmonton's Grindstone Theatre.

“In any production, women often don’t get to play the really intelligent, provocative characters, because women historically speaking were often written as relatively docile creatures,” Linsey said.
“It’s very cool being able to play somebody that’s so intelligent and so on the ball.”

Women have taken the role in European productions of Henry V, and Linsey said she’s excited to expand that legacy.

Henry V, starting this week at Holy Trinity Anglican Church, 10037 84 Ave., is the globetrotting Malachites’ first Canadian production.

The company’s co-director Danielle Larose said they never set out to put a woman in the role, but their gender-blind casting policy is evident throughout the cast.

The modern casting approach is also a subversion on Shakespeare’s practice of having strictly male actors on stage, which saw young boys take on characters like Lady Macbeth and Cleopatra instead of adult women.

“Lots of our really militaristic characters throughout the play are played by women, and they do a fantastic job of embodying the spirit of the play and the spirit of the characters that they have been exploring,” Larose said.

“So it’s less important for those gender normative roles to be filled by gender normative actors, than for an actor to come on stage and really get the inner workings of the character.”

Henry V will play Tuesdays through Saturdays at 7:30 p.m. and Sunday, Jan. 15 at 2 p.m., through Jan. 28.

Correction: this story has been edited to note that Linsey will not be the first woman in Canada to play Henry V. Margo MacDonald played the part in Ontario in 2012.  


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