Usually when people think of cross-dressing, they think of transvestites or show girls, but members of Broken Box dressed up for very different reasons.
This is because Broken Box’s latest production, “Robin Hood,” was done in the style of a British pantomime, which is generally known for having actors portray characters of opposite genders.
Usually, British pantomimes have one male lead played by a female and one older female lead played by a male. This year, however, Broken Box decided to add another cross-dressing character into the mix.
Senior Kate Corbin played Robin Hood, “the greatest outlaw in all the world.” But he was a different Robin Hood from the movies and legend.
“He’s full of himself,” Kate said. “He’s great, and he knows it.”
Senior Cameron Kashani played Dame Twinklebottom, the ugly, greedy sister of Prince John and the main villain of the show.
Junior Sherwin Tavana played the additional female lead as Maid Marian, the object of Robin Hood’s affection who, according to Kate, “distracts him from himself.”
According to Cameron, there were some striking differences relations between the two female leads.
“In a battle between Dame Twinklebottom and Maid Marian, Dame Twinklebotton would win; she’s crazy,” Cameron said. “[Maid Marian] is just this stereotypical cute broad. A lot more girly.”
In order to play this “cute broad,” however, Sherwin faced a challenging situation since his character was actually written for a girl.
“She’s this shy, timid girl, and it’s funny because I’m this big guy,” Sherwin said.
The other cast members thought that his character added a lot more humor to the show.
“Sherwin always has this funny expression on his face,” Kate said. “Since he’s playing this young girl he always has this sort of forlorn looking face with these big doe-eyes looking off into the distance. It’s hilarious.”
However, Sherwin had a different perspective.
“It’s awkward,” Sherwin said. “And embarassing, ’cause I’m wearing a dress and I have hairy legs.”
Both Kate and Cameron prepared for their roles by watching a lot of British pantomime plays and films.
“I’ve been … trying to base it off of [old movies],” Cameron said. “I’ve been referencing them and mashing up the characters.”
The actors also worked a lot on their physicality and making sure they appeared as natural as possible.
“I’ve been practicing walking like a boy…since they have a higher center of gravity,” Kate said. “I’m trying to seem really confident and comfortable.”
And because oftentimes it was difficult to keep themselves in check, it led to some embarrassing experiences.
“It’s hard to always remember to walk [like a guy],” Kate said. “Sometimes I forget and just stand on stage like myself.”
As for costumes, the cast isn’t unfamiliar with the concept of cross-dressing.
“I’m not going to lie, there have been a couple occasions where I have cross-dressed before, for like Halloween and stuff, and it is [kind of weird],” Cameron said. “But I’m willing to do whatever to put on a good show.”
Cameron also said that he tried on many wigs, dresses, hats and “tight clothes” for the show.
“It’s not super awkward once you’re into character,” Cameron said. “But it is fun because it’s something you don’t normally do. It has more to do with the being funny aspect of it.”
For the actors, the hardest part about their roles would probably be the voices they had to use.
“I worked a lot on my [voice] because it’s hard to make it girly and understandable,” Cameron said.
Kate agreed with Cameron but said that she noticed a significant improvement.
“[When Cameron started, his voice] would be high then low, then it would start squeaking, then cracking,” Kate said. “You couldn’t really understand it, but he calmed it down a lot. It’s pretty good now.”
Kate believed that her particular role was difficult to play as well.
“I really enjoy it,” Kate said. “But I think it’s harder for a girl to play a guy though just because you can’t really change your voice as much as a guy can.”
Even so, they were all very excited about going through the experience together.
“Broken Box is such a community,” Cameron said. “Every single show is just so great.”