All’s Well That Ends in a Challenge of Gender Roles

January 10, 2017

It is no secret that the word ‘gender’ has taken on new meaning in the past decade.  In fact, if you contemplate the meaning of gender over the past 400 years, the term itself has undergone some massive evolution. 


When applying the idea of gender to roles in society, one conjures clear views of how things might have once been.  In a traditional sense, men are the bread winning, female pursuing, powerful and providing side of the equation.  Women, on the other hand, have been expected to play the timid, homely, pursued, and nurturing role.  No longer do these stereotypes reign true, but in the original variation of Shakespeare’s All’s Well That Ends Well we observe a challenge on these gender roles that is an occurrence ahead of its time!  A woman – Helena – is determined to win the love of Bertram, in spite of his assertion that he does not love her back. 


Once rejected, instead of conforming to ‘lady-like’ ways of passive nature, she goes out of her way to find a way into his heart – and his bed – with methods nothing short of controversial, even into the context of modern tendencies. 


The question that arises is timeless, however.  How far should one actually go in the pursuit of loving someone who clearly does not lot return the favour.  Women in the past 400 years have flipped the coin on gender roles, and today it is not unheard of for a woman to pursue a man.  But in Shakespearean times, is this something audiences would have applauded or gasped at?  If the story were written the other way around, with Bertram pursuing Helena in deceptive ways – would the circumstances have sparked the same reaction?  If we look at Dumas’ The Three Musketeers, the young hero D’Artagnan tricks Milady de Winter into bed by pretending to be her lover, and he is lauded as a hero and patriot. No wonder Milady is so determined to get revenge!


Director Peter Hinton and the cast have been working closely with Shakespeare’s text, and Brad Fraser’s adaption to explore this gender inequity. Check it out for yourself starting January 19.






One Yellow Rabbit presents

The Shakespeare Company and Hit & Myth Production’s

All’s Well That Ends Well

As part of the 31st Annual High Performance Rodeo

 By William Shakespeare   Adapted by Brad Fraser

Directed by Peter Hinton

 January 20 – 28, 2016
 Preview January 19


Iconic and provocative Canadian playwright Brad Fraser and esteemed Canadian theatre director Peter Hinton, join forces to bring Shakespeare’s lesser known romantic tragi-comedy to life.  All’s Well That Ends Well is a romantic tale about Helena, in love with the requiting Bertram and the great lengths she will go to win his affection. Known as one of Shakespeare’s darker comedies, it is the fusion of folk and fairy tale woven through the battlefield of love, betrayal, and seduction. 


 Purchase by phone at 403-221-3708