Roles for women have not improved in past 25 years, says Glenda Jackson

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Glenda Jackson took on the role after standing down as an MP
Glenda Jackson took on the role after standing down as an MP
31 January 2017 3:15PM

Oscar-winning actress and former MP Glenda Jackson has bemoaned the lack of improvement in roles written for women in the 25 years she was away from the stage.

The former Labour politician, 80, received glowing reviews when she returned to the theatre for her take on the traditionally male leading role in King Lear at London's Old Vic but said there has been scant advancement in parts written for actresses.

Speaking just before she won a Critics' Circle Theatre Award for best Shakespearean performance, she said: "I've been away from it for 25 years and I was moaning when I left at the lack of how creative writers don't find women interesting, they are always adjunct to the male driving dramatic energy and I come back after 25 years and it's exactly the same situation.

"Why do creative writers find women so boring or stick us in some homogeneous box that we are all the same?

"Partly because that is still the prevailing view, nine times out of 10.

"A woman is a success, it is deemed she is the exception to her gender rule, a woman fails and it just proves women are all essentially failures, I don't see any change in that at all."

Jackson said she was not advocating for more women to follow her example and take on male roles but instead said: "I would advocate for more writers finding women interesting and seeing we are not this homogeneous group you can stick into a box."

However, she said she was delighted to win the Trewin award for best Shakespearean performance at the ceremony, where the winners were chosen by critics.

She said: "I've been very rude to the critics in the past and critics have been very rude to me in the past so we can treat this as kiss and make up."

Elsewhere at the ceremony there were three prizes for Harry Potter And The Cursed Child at the Palace Theatre as Anthony Boyle, who plays Scorpius Malfoy, was given the Jack Tinker award for most promising newcomer, John Tiffany was named best director and Christine Jones won best designer for the production.

The show, which is sold out months ahead of time, will transfer to Broadway next year.

Former Doctor Who star Billie Piper was named best actress for her role in Yerma at the Young Vic, while Stephen Dillane won the best actor prize for Faith Healer at the Donmar Warehouse.

The Flick by Annie Baker, which was staged at The National Theatre, was named best new play, while the Old Vic's production of Groundhog Day was given the Peter Hepple award for best musical.

Charlene James won the prize for most promising playwright for Cuttin' It.

The awards were handed out at a ceremony at the Prince of Wales Theatre, where the audience was given a look at Gary Barlow and Tim Firth's new musical The Girls, which is in previews at the Phoenix Theatre ahead of its official opening on February 21.