CARROLL GARDENS — First Julius Caesar, then King Henry IV — now Prospero.
For the third time in four years, theater group Smith Street Stage will set aside gender restrictions for its seventh annual Shakespeare in Carroll Park.
This month, the group will take on William Shakespeare's "The Tempest" from June 8 to June 26. Performances are free and open to the public.
In previous productions, Smith Street Stage has given lead male roles to women in "Henry IV, Part One and Part Two" and "Julius Caesar."
For "The Tempest," actresses Kate Ross, Kate Eastman and Shaun Bennet Fauntleroy will play the parts of Prospero, Stephano and Sebastian which are traditionally performed and played as men.
"In the plays that I love, there's just only so many spots [for women]," said Beth Ann Hopkins, the group's artistic director.
In Smith Street Stage's production, the genders of the characters themselves have been changed to female, said Hopkins, who is directing the play.
"The Tempest" is billed as a dark comedy that begins with a storm and a shipwreck at the hands of Prospero, who is seeking revenge against the men who usurped his position as Duke of Milan.
The play unfolds on a mysterious island where Prospero and his daughter Miranda have lived for 12 years.
Hopkins was keen to perform "The Tempest" outdoors in hopes of recreating the natural setting of the magical island in the play.
This way, a character can look up during the storm scene "and scream to the heavens, and actually sees the heavens," she said.
"I just wanted things to be larger than life," she added.
The production will feature live music and a cast of 11 actors and actresses. Hopkins hopes it will be an immersive experience for the audience.
"They are in the storm with us," she said. "They are on the island with us."
Performances will begin at 7:30 p.m. Attendees are encouraged to arrive 30 minutes before the show. There will be a limited amount of seating and theatergoers are encouraged to bring blankets or chairs.