Theater Emory opens its season with an exploration of Shakespearean "breeches" roles

September 5, 2013

In five of Shakespeare¿s plays, female heroines disguise themselves by dressing in the clothes of a boy; these ¿breeches¿ roles are the focus of Theater Emory¿s original ¿I am not that I play (gender and disguise),¿ adapted and directed by Tim McDonough with performances September 26-October 6 in the Theater Lab of the Schwartz Center for Performing Arts.

With ¿I am not that I play (gender and disguise),¿ Theater Emory will explore questions of identity and conflicts about fidelity and betrayal, freedom and constraint, appearance and reality, and the urge to both conceal and reveal oneself.  ¿You might think of characters in these plays (and actors in this project) as shape-changers,¿ explains McDonough. ¿In Shakespeare¿s day, actors were sometimes referred to in terms of Proteus, the sea-god of Greek mythology who is capable of changing shape at will. Proteus is an image of identity, confusion, and of the Renaissance preoccupation with self-fashioning.¿ 

¿I am not that I play (gender and disguise)¿ takes its title from words spoken by Viola, one of Shakespeare¿s celebrated heroines and a ¿breeches¿ role from ¿Twelfth Night.¿ The production will parallel characters from that play with others from ¿As You Like It,¿ ¿Cymbeline,¿ ¿The Merchant of Venice,¿ and ¿Two Gentlemen of Verona¿ in search of what the plays have in common and how they throw light on each other.

 ¿If you believe, as I do, that we perform our very selves, then our project is about identity and performance. Whether the identities we play are appearance or reality is a matter of confusion for the characters in these plays and for ourselves in our everyday lives,¿ says McDonough. 

Theater Emory presents ¿I am not that I play (gender and disguise)¿ September 26-28 and October 3-5 at 7 p.m. and September 29 and October 6 at 2 p.m. in the Theater Lab of the Schwartz Center for Performing Arts. Tickets ($18 general admission; $14 discount category members; $6 Emory students) are available at the Arts at Emory box office at 404-727-5050 or For more information, visit the Theater Emory website.


Theater Emory

Theater Emory is the resident professional company at Emory University where undergraduates work alongside professional theater artists, producing innovative new work and classics with a fresh approach.