Upstaging Shakespeare’s boys’ club
Theatre is a boys’ club. From men playing every character in Shakespeare’s days to a male-dominated casts and crew in present-day productions, not much has changed. But if Tara Notcutt has her way, that will soon be different. After nine years of directing plays to global acclaim, her latest offering is remaking history and empowering even more women in theatre.
Notcutt grew up in a family of performers – her mother is a dance teacher, her father teaches drama and her sister is a choreographer. Her family warned her that the industry wouldn’t bring in money, but that wasn’t Notcutt’s priority. After getting involved in high school plays, she knew she wanted to do this for the rest of her life. Notcutt graduated with a BA in Theatre and Performance at the University of Cape Town in 2009, after which she co-founded the theatre company, The Pink Couch, with a group of friends. The following year, Notcutt won a Fleur de Cap for Best New Director, taking her debut production entitled ...miskien to Amsterdam, Perth and New York.
This year, Notcutt directed The Taming of the Shrew, reimagining the Shakespearean classic with an all-female cast. The fresh take on an old tale was her 50th show as a director. Presented at the Maynardville Open-Air Theatre, Notcutt became the youngest person to direct a play there, and only the fifth female director in over six decades of the venue’s existence. Notcutt turned the familiar story on its head, using her position as director to not just promote her own ideas, but also empower the women alongside her. The play was met with resounding praise. Notcutt’s work emphasises the infinite creativity and increased standards that can be expected when women take centre stage.