Bard in the Botanics puts the women front and centre

These Headstrong Women: Queen Lear

Queen Lear, Timon of Athens, Taming of the Shrew and Measure for Measure make up the summer season at Glasgow's Botanic Gardens

Each year, weather permitting, Glasgow's West End plays host to Bard in the Botanics, an outdoor celebration of Shakespeare's most feted and lesser-known works, often with an iconoclastic twist. 2013's excellent re-imagining of Much Ado About Nothing had a gay relationship at its core, while the style of the 60s shaped their production of Twelfth Night last year.

Following a now familiar fashion, this year sees the women front and centre in the four plays for the summer season: in Queen Lear, Janette Foggo takes the lead, Measure for Measure is female focused, and Nicole Cooper becomes the eponymous hero in Timon of Athens. Having already been acclaimed for her take on Coriolanus in 2016, Cooper is more than familiar with gender-swap Shakespeare.

But it's often the divisive Taming of the Shrew which raises eyebrows for its less than lustrous attitude to gender roles, something artistic director Gordon Barr is keen to address.
'For us, it's important not to shy away from some of the difficulties in the representation of women in Shakespeare's plays,' he explains. 'Also, I was fascinated to discover that it might have already been considered fairly controversial in its day. John Fletcher's "sequel" The Tamer Tamed is a very modern, feminist riposte to the play from the early 17th century, and so the idea was born to incorporate material from this late play and give the women in the story a chance to fight back.'

Bard in the Botanics is an established festival in the Glasgow calendar, and has increasingly developed an imaginative take on the classic scripts. With a lineup as strong as this, all clichés of marginalised fair maidens should be quashed: as long as the weather stays fair.

Botanic Gardens, Glasgow, Wed 21 Jun–Sat 29 Jul.

These Headstrong Women: Measure for Measure

Shakespeare’s explosive and prescient drama makes its first appearance at Bard in the Botanics for nearly 15 years in this new version for just four actors.

Glasgow Botanic Gardens

Thu 13 Jul

£22.50 (£15) / 0141 334 2422

Fri 14 Jul

£22.50 (£15) / 0141 334 2422

Sat 15 Jul

£22.50 (£15) / 0141 334 2422

…and 10 more dates until 29 Jul

These Headstrong Women: Queen Lear

Bard in the Botanics' fresh take on Shakespeare.

Glasgow Botanic Gardens

Wed 12 Jul

£22.50 (£12–£15) / 0141 334 2422

Thu 13 Jul

£22.50 (£12–£15) / 0141 334 2422

Fri 14 Jul

£22.50 (£12–£15) / 0141 334 2422

…and 13 more dates until 29 Jul

These Headstrong Women: Taming of the Shrew?

Bard in the Botanics' fresh take on Shakespeare.

Glasgow Botanic Gardens

Tue 27 Jun

£22.50 (£12–£15) / 0141 334 2422

Wed 28 Jun

£22.50 (£12–£15) / 0141 334 2422

Thu 29 Jun

£22.50 (£12–£15) / 0141 334 2422

…and 7 more dates until 8 Jul

These Headstrong Women: Timon of Athens

Bard in the Botanics' fresh take on Shakespeare.

Glasgow Botanic Gardens

Tue 27 Jun

£22.50 (£12–£15) / 0141 334 2422

Wed 28 Jun

£22.50 (£12–£15) / 0141 334 2422

Thu 29 Jun

£22.50 (£12–£15) / 0141 334 2422

…and 7 more dates until 8 Jul

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