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Casting Focus: Richard III

In the bustling corridors of The Monkey House, amidst the echoes of Shakespearean verse, Layla, a young emerging artist, finds herself grappling with a weighty role—Richard, Duke of Gloucester, in Shakespeare's Henry VI Part III. As she delves into the depths of this complex character, Layla confronts not only the challenges of portraying a historical figure but also the contentious issue of representation in the performing arts.


The role of Richard III has long been a point of contention, particularly concerning the casting of non-disabled actors in the part. Layla, who is neurodivergent, faces this controversy head-on. However, as she navigates the intricacies of the character, she discovers a profound resonance with her own experiences of feeling like an outsider due to her neurodiversity.


Playing against gender norms adds another layer of complexity to Layla's portrayal. Yet, rather than being deterred by these challenges, she sees them as opportunities to delve deeper into the humanity of the character. Through her lens as a neurodivergent individual, Layla uncovers the intricacies of Richard's psyche, exploring the layers of ambition, insecurity, and vulnerability beneath his ruthless exterior.


For Layla, the role of Richard III becomes a platform to advocate for diversity and inclusion in the arts. She brings authenticity and depth to her performance, drawing on her own lived experiences to infuse the character with nuance and empathy. Through her portrayal, Layla challenges the conventional notions of who can inhabit certain roles, advocating for a more inclusive and representative theatre landscape.


As she prepares to take the stage in the classical season showing of Henry VI Part III, Layla's journey serves as a testament to the power of art to ask the big questions and foster understanding.


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