Some female characters throughout history have been so iconic, they are instantly recognisable. They are mimicked and referenced constantly and we will never cease to be enthralled by them. Be it their defiance, innocence or violence that captures our imagination, we will always come back to them.
Juliet – Romeo and Juliet, William Shakespeare 1597
Oil painting by Ford Madox Brown, 1870
Juliet is arguably the most famous female role in the history of theatre. Her defiance against her family in the name of true love has made her one of the most replicated and recognisable characters in cultural history. It is the most romantic story of all time and Juliet is right at the heart of it.
Blanche is deeply damaged. To combat the self loathing she feels due to ageing, and the guilt she feels for past mistakes, she seeks solace in the arms of men. She knows the power of her beauty and charm and isn’t afraid to use it. As an adult, she retreats into magical fantasy world. Her innocence is captivating and her relentlessly youthful imagination makes her tragic downfall so much more excruciating.
Abigail is the ultimate villain. She overtly sexual, calculating, manipulative and determined to have what or whomever she wants at any cost. We see her play saccharine sweet, before snapping into a feral psychosis. She is a challenging character as she is headstrong and ruthless, yet undeniably savage and cruel.
Lily – Punk Rock, Simon Stephens 2009
Lily is young, bright, beautiful and troubled. She has the outward confidence and internal insecurity of most teenage girls and her struggle to balance kindness and compassion towards others with her own needs makes her a fascinating character to play or watch. Lily has no clue about the power she possesses over others, or herself. She is of our time, and is an icon for modern British theatre as she is a girl, it feels, we all know.
Baba – Hero’s Welcome, Alan Ayckbourn 2015
Richard Stacey and Terenia Edwards in Hero’s.
Baba is an iconic character of the future. Initially we see her as meek and beautiful. She is almost ornamental on the arm of her new husband, a decorated war veteran. As the story unfolds, it becomes clear that she is fiercely intelligent and has an unparalleled, heroic strength of her own. The only actor to have played her thus far is recent drama school graduate, Terenia Edwards who said of Baba: “The strength in Baba is that she represents hope for the future. She is spirited and tenacious and fights a lot of the issues women of our generation would recognise.”