Playful with gender? 

What happens if you play with gender? Turn it around, mix it or even let go of it? Theatre is an ideal platform for this. Masculinity, femininity and other gender characteristics can be presented in an exaggerated way. Men play women’s roles, for example, in Japanese kabuki theatre.  

The exhibition will ask you the question:

Playful with gender?  

Kabuki theatre

A strong jaw line doesn’t have to be an impediment to female elegance. Kabuki actor Onoe Kikugorō IV (Onoe Baikō IV, 1808-1860) had a pronounced chin, making him recognizable on many prints. He virtually only played female roles and was unequalled. The celebrated  onnagata can be seen here in the role of Otani, the woman top right; she is the main character in a tragic play about blood revenge.  

Photo credit: Japan; Utagawa Kuniyoshi (1797-1861); 1847-48 
Kabuki theater


Hatshepsut was the first woman pharaoh of Egypt from 1479 to 1458 BC. She often had herself depicted as a man with a glued on false beard, so people often think that she crossed dressed or was not completely male or female. Other people think that she dealt with gender in a fluid way to maintain her power.  

Photo credit: Egypt (New Kingdom, 18th Dynasty); 1473-1458 BC; granite; on loan from: RMO & Metropolitan Museum