Pop-up Globe premieres Emilia, with all-female cast

The story caught the attention of playwright, Morgan Lloyd Malcolm who insisted the casting an all-female ensemble. Credit: Newshub.

The curtain went up on Thursday on Emilia, the story of a forgotten English poet.

It is based on the real-life story of Emilia Bassano, who despite being a poet in her own right has mostly been remembered for being the muse behind Shakespeare's Dark Lady.

The story caught the attention of playwright, Morgan Lloyd Malcolm who insisted the casting an all-female ensemble.

"That's been the loveliest thing, being able to employ more women on stage."

Malcolm has worked with directors to cast women in every role, including male characters they usually wouldn't be cast in.

"How many women have played Shakespeare before?"

On Wednesday, the play was nominated for three Olivier awards.

A fact, actress Acushla-Tara Kupe says she finds very intimidating.

She plays the titular character in the first third of her life, a role which required a lot of inner-strength.

"This woman has such mana and she was one of the first on the path to feminism, giving women equal rights."

The empowering play goes a step further; the cast is ethnically diverse.

While they speak in Shakespearean prose they keep their accents, adding to the comedy.

"Back when Shakespeare was on this stage, there was no way a woman would be allowed on that stage, let alone a Māori woman," says Kupe.

"It feels right. I don't think Shakespeare or theatre or poetry has to exist in British accents."

The play will be the last hosted at the Pop-up Globe playhouse in Auckland before the building is torn down.

The playhouse has given platform for many of Shakespeare's classics.

Fittingly as its parting gift, the playhouse gives the forgotten poet Emilia her time in the spotlight.

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