“Titus” to challenge gender stereotypes


Photo courtesy of Theatre Simpson

by Belle Ward, Features Editor

Theatre Simpson’s production of Shakespeare’s “Titus Andronicus” will be performed with a gender swapped titular role.

Maria Kosovich, a senior music major plays Titia Andronica, the leading character.

“I have wanted to be the lead in a Shakespeare play since I was like 10 years old,” Kosovich said. “I’m really excited that this is the play because I’ve also wanted to play a male character.”

Kosovich has played secondary characters in Shakespeare plays in the past, so being the main character is a new experience for her. The cast is learning how to shape the characters for women, which can be challenging at times. One goal is to highlight Titia Andronica’s affectionate traits.

“She’s tactical. She still has warmth for her children,” Kosovich said.

Her character is a proud general in the process of retiring.

“She’s always one step ahead of everybody, even when her world is completely falling apart around her,” Kosovich said.

Shakespeare English can be difficult to understand and learn, but Kosovich has previously performed in operas at Simpson that are originally in another language. As a result, understanding it was not difficult for her to handle.

The cast has been rehearsing since September and has learned lines and stage combat. Kosovich is inspired by the work of her castmates during rehearsals.

“Every single person has brought something to the table. That is part of what makes this play enjoyable,” Kosovich said.

The setting of the play is during the Roman Empire, but the characters are still relatable to today’s audience.  

“Everybody will get something out of it, and it might be surprising to you, and it’s worth it to see what that surprise may be,” Kosovich said.

Senior religion major Katie Dean plays Lavinia, daughter of Titia Andronica.

Dean said the play’s director, Mimi Kammer, was inspired by the movie, “Wonder Woman,” and therefore decided to change roles from male to female. She also said this show can be empowering with these changes.

“This says ‘No wait, women can actually do this, and are actually capable of this,’” Dean said.

Dean said before this role, she was often typecast as innocent and sweet characters. Lavinia is a change in tone for her because she is a rebel.

“I personally think she’s a badass,” Dean said.

Although Lavinia is sexually assaulted off-stage during the performance and is silenced, she still communicates and is understood by characters onstage. Dean challenges herself throughout the production to communicate without lines. She uses things like gestures, expressions and body language.

“Even though she doesn’t have a voice, she still gets people to listen to her,” Dean said.

Although Dean previously learned stage combat, this is the first time she has used it in a show, which has been challenging.

“You have to have muscle memory for your movement, and be safe, but also do lines,” Dean said.

Theatre performance major, Athalee Lynn, plays Tamora, queen of the Goths and enemy of Titia.  

Lynn said she is often cast as an older or younger character because she’s skilled at multiple voices. However, since Tamora is a provocative character, Lynn has had to challenge herself to portray such a character.

“She knows how to manipulate other people,” Lynn said.

The play will show women are capable of playing these roles.

“Originally, men played even the female roles, and we’re making it so that now women have more opportunities,” Lynn said. “We’re showing that women are capable of doing exactly what men are doing.”

Performances of “Titus Andronicus” will be Nov. 16 and 17 at 7:30 p.m. and Nov. 18 at 1:00 p.m. in Pote Theater. Tickets are available free for students at the box office in the Blank Performing Arts Center or on the box office’s website