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Shakespeare's Globe Issues Explanation of 'Them/They' Pronouns in I, JOAN

Michelle Terry published a statement on the theatre's website

Shakespeare's Globe Issues Explanation of 'Them/They' Pronouns in I, JOAN

Shakespeare's Globe artistic director Michelle Terry has explained a decision to use they/them pronouns in the theatre's upcoming production of I, Joan.

In this production, opening later this month, Joan uses the pronouns "they/them".

The statement appeared on the theatre's website as follows:

"Shakespeare's Globe proudly presents a new play I, Joan with Joan as a legendary leader, who in this production, uses the pronouns 'they/them'. The production opens on 25 August in the open-air Globe Theatre. We are not the first to present Joan in this way, and we will not be the last. Regarding the use of pronouns, 'they' to refer to a singular person has been traced by the Oxford English Dictionary to as early as 1375, years before Joan was even born. Regardless, theatres do not deal with 'historical reality'. Theatres produce plays, and in plays, anything can be possible.

Shakespeare did not write historically accurate plays. He took figures of the past to ask questions about the world around him. Our writers of today are doing no different, whether that's looking at Ann Boleyn, Nell Gwynn, Emilia Bassano, Edward II, or Joan of Arc.

The Globe is a place of imagination. A place where, for a brief amount of time, we can at least consider the possibility of world's elsewhere. We have had entire storms take place on stage, the sinking of ships, twins who look nothing alike being believable, and even a Queen of the fairies falling in love with a donkey.

Joan's army will be made of hundreds of 'Groundlings' standing in the Yard, all coming to watch a play for £5 - the most accessible ticket price in London theatre. We hope this £5 ticket invites as many people as possible to come and have an opinion of their own, and even if we don't agree with each other, still show kindness, curiosity, and respect.

It was no accident that Shakespeare moved his playhouse beyond the jurisdiction of the London City Walls. He wanted to play. Play with identity, power, with the idea of pleasure, and with all sides of an argument. Shakespeare was not afraid to ask difficult questions as he imagined the lives of 1,223 characters; he represented an extraordinary range of diverse perspectives and identities, and we are all still enjoying his work over 400 years later. Shakespeare was not afraid of discomfort, and neither is the Globe.

For centuries, Joan has been a cultural icon portrayed in countless plays, books, films, etc. History has provided countless and wonderful examples of Joan portrayed as a woman. This production is simply offering the possibility of another point of view. That is the role of theatre: to simply ask the question 'imagine if?'."

Read the full statement and more information on the Globe's website here.

Photo Credit: Shakepeare's Globe




From This Author - Aliya Al-Hassan

Aliya Al-Hassan is UK Managing Editor of BroadwayWorld. A London-based theatre critic and journalist, she has a life-long passion for the arts, with a focus on theatre and opera. She is a... (read more about this author)


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