Actors' Theatre of Columbus will kick off its 33rd season with a classic Shakespeare production that will have an androgynous twist.
The German Village-based acting troupe will open the 2014 summer season with a production of Hamlet.
The difference is the prince of Denmark, the main character, will be played by a woman.
John S. Kuhn, artistic director of Actors' Theatre, said it's nothing new: In the early days, men played all the characters in the play.
Women weren't allowed to act on stage until after the Restoration of 1660.
"What we want to do is look at how to universalize, give a universal sense to, the themes inherent in the play," Kuhn said.
He said Hamlet is one of Shakespeare's darkest works, a tragedy that's heavy with emotions, ranging from revenge to treachery. It also has more soliloquies shared with the audience, so the main character can connect on a more common level, Kuhn said.
"By having a woman cast in the role as Hamlet, the audience will always be aware of that gender shift, and through that shift we hope to have a much stronger impact for the themes, issues and challenges the character is struggling with," he said.
"We hope it becomes more universal through that gendered lens."
Kuhn said the setting of the play, although not the dialogue, could be changed to something more modern that demonstrates a struggle for women's rights.
Auditions for Hamlet, The Barber of Seville and Merry Wives of Windsor, all of the plays to be performed in Schiller Park as part of Actors' Theatre's summer season, will be held Feb. 15 and 16 at the German Village Meeting Haus, 588 S. Third St. Interested actors are asked to visit the theater company's website -- www.theactorstheatre.org -- to sign up.
In other news from Actors' Theatre, the troupe recently raised $7,825 for a new sound system at the outdoor amphitheater. Kuhn said the money was raised through power 2give, a program through the Greater Columbus Arts Council.
The theater will look to replace speakers, cables, a mixing board and microphones, while also beefing up supply.
"A lot of our stuff is still good; this will be replacing some items and supplementing others," Kuhn said.
"As an outdoor venue, we're rough on that stuff."