An all-female, feminist live reading of Entourage kicks off Bad Dog Theatre's new Women Playing Men series.
With the new Entourage movie out in theatres, people are once again talking about the now-defunct tele-series it’s based on. The HBO comedy-drama, which ran for eight seasons between 2004 and 2011, was based loosely on the life of actor and Entourage executive producer Mark Wahlberg, and his experiences as an up-and-coming film star.
Series creator Doug Ellin once stated, “Entourage works because it’s about male friendship,” but local writer and filmmaker, Chandler Levack, disagrees that the presence of men is the key to a script’s success. To prove it, she’s put together an all-female Entourage live reading. The showing, set for this Thursday at Bad Dog Theatre, sold out days in advance.
“Now that the Entourage movie is coming out, the show is back in the cultural conversation. There’s been a lot of think pieces out lately about the show’s portrayal of women, the female characters’ lack of agency,” she says.
Levack’s idea for the project came one night while sitting around on Twitter reading about the new Entourage movie released earlier last month. On a whim, she jokingly tweeted, “Can I organize an all-female reading of the Entourage pilot?” and tagged ideal female actresses in the tweet.
With Reign‘s Katie Boland as Vincent Chase, Degrassi‘s Lauren Collins as Turtle, improv duo the Sufferettes’ Kayla Lorette as E, and Rodrigo Fernandez-Stroll playing various female roles – and an enthusiastic “hell yes” from all – Levack reached out to Bad Dog, who green-lit the project, and thus the all-female, feminist performance was born.
“The enthusiasm for which this event has been made, I’m hoping, is an indicator that both men and women are starving to see awesome, funny women portray all kinds of characters in a range of genres,” she says. “I’m really excited about the future of the ‘feminist live read’ series and want to cast as much of a diverse range of women as possible in all kinds of roles.”
The production will be the first edition of Bad Dog’s Women Playing Men series – a new feminist live read of popular films and TV shows featuring an all-female cast in roles written specifically for men.
“[The word ‘feminist’] is becoming a buzzword and it is weird that it is part of our marketing material. However, I think it’s incredibly important to own this label and celebrate its intent,” she says.
“Sadly, unless actresses create their own material, they’re often stuck as the sympathetic girlfriend or if you’re me, ‘fat girl at a keg party.’ We’re done with that.”
Levack points out Richard Brody’s New Yorker article, The Silent Women of Entourage, which criticizes the show’s negative portrayal of women as the “silent woman” typecast. In it, Brody explains, “The central quartet grotesquely objectifies women, treating them solely as targets of fantasy and desire… Such behaviour and such attitudes would be a good subject of satire, worthy of lampooning,” a notion Levack wants to cash in on.
“By flipping the gender of E, Drama, Vince, Turtle, and Ari Gold, I think we reconstruct the text,” she says. “When you hear women speaking their dialogue, it’s going to be uncomfortable for the audience. And I think that sense of discomfort is what makes something really funny and powerful.”
Levack says she hopes future projects will include works from female screenwriters and filmmakers; think Kathryn Bigelow – whose film The Hurt Locker made her the first woman in history to win an Academy Award for Best Director – and Zero Dark Thirty, both highly-accoladed films with a predominantly male cast.
“Obviously this is an inclusive event for everyone to attend. But it’s nice to have women steal the spotlight and get the chance to play the best, most commanding role in the script,” says Levack.
Levack’s An Entourage All-Female Live Read plays tomorrow at Bad Dog Theatre (875 Bloor Street W.) at 8 p.m. Though the show is currently sold out, walk-in tickets will be available at the door starting at 7:30 p.m. for $10 a pop.
All proceeds go towards Sistering, a charity serving marginalized, homeless, and low-income women in Toronto.