BUILDING OUR FUTURE...
In her essay A Room of Ones’ Own, Virginia Woolf imagined Shakespeare born as a woman, condemned to an ignominious life and an unnoticed death. Woolf predicts her return in a future we have built together that would support and celebrate her genius-
"She lives in you and in me, and in many other women...for great poets do not die; they are continuing presences; they need only the opportunity to walk among us in the flesh. This opportunity, as I think, it is now coming within your power to give her ... She would come if we worked for her"
The Tiger's Hearts Collective aims to work for the women of the present and of the future; it's so much more than just normalizing women playing men on stage. Our all-female classical theatre company offers unprecedented opportunities for women of all cultures to participate in and contribute to a genre that has hitherto been dominated by patriarchal and colonial ideals. We hope to advance the classical theatre world by building an innovative and inclusive company whose focus promotes equality, provokes exploration, and produces exemplary theatre. Please check out OUR definition of the term "Classical Performance" on our Diversity page
WHAT’S IN A NAME...
People constantly try to tell me that Shakespeare wasn’t a feminist (for any number of reasons), but I can’t ignore the boundless potential his plays offer for the exploration of feminism, of equality, of liberation from centuries of cookie cutter, paper doll, plot device female characters. He wrote Queen Margaret as a thrillingly complex and problematic character when he was a very green young man. She appears in more plays than any other recurring character. Obviously audiences loved her, perhaps in spite of her Tiger’s Heart, perhaps because of it.
“O Tiger’s heart wrapped in a woman’s hide!
How couldst thou drain the life-blood of the child
To bid the father wipe his eyes withal,
And yet be seen to bear a woman’s face?
Women are soft, mild, pitiful and flexible;
Thou stern, obdurate, flinty, rough, remorseless”
-York, Henry VI, Part III
Queen Margaret, who has just killed York’s son and offered a napkin soaked in his blood for “the father to wipe his eyes withal”, is remorseless and brutal in her quest for revenge. Her “Tiger’s heart” betrays everything an Elizabethan woman should be: chaste, pure, fertile and silent (simultaneously, of course). Refusing to comply with such limited options, Margaret is a rare but compelling example of a complex female personage from both classical theatre and from history.
Then there's Robert Greene’s scathing commentary in his Groatsworth pamphlet. Does “Shakes-scene” indeed refer to the young playwright/actor from Stratford? Or does “bombast” rather refer to actor Edward Alleyn, another of Greene’s nemeses? We will never find conclusive answers to these questions. What is certain, and what has kept these scraps relevant for nearly 500 years, is the determinedly rebellious spirit they conjure up.
“...for there is an upstart Crow, beautified with our feathers, that with his Tiger’s heart wrapped in a Player’s Hide, supposes he is as well able to bombast out a blank verse as the best of you and being an absolute Johannes factotum is in his own conceit the only Shake-scene in a country”
-Robert Greene, from his pamphlet Greene’s Groatsworth of Wit
Greene’s “upstart Crow” is scrappy, confident, and seemingly unafraid to broadcast their theatrical talents. Their fight for the right to be seen, heard, and respected in their creative endeavours is all too relevant centuries later, and that phrase “supposes he is well able” can stir up imposter syndrome in any artist. It’s a struggle that every theatre maker (especially those who are under-represented) feels in their very bones as they constantly make themselves vulnerable in service to their audience and their art.
An Upstart Crow and a Warrior Queen. A young writer/actor from the middle of nowhere fighting for creative respect and freedom, and a woman plucked from the pages of history fighting for her cause in a man’s world by a man’s means, whether justly or no.
As the Tiger's Hearts Collective creates classical and classically inspired work in our theatre community, we will continue to return to the rebellious spirits of Virginia Woolf, Queen Margaret, and Shakespeare for inspiration and reassurance that the battle for artistic expression and gender equality is worth fighting.