RSC – Who Wears The Trousers

Wed 7th May 2014
Royal Shakespeare Company

Ferguson Room, Swan Theatre, Royal Shakespeare Company, Stratford upon Avon

Girls Who Draw are a group of female illustrators from across the UK. Inspired by the Swan Theatre production of The Roaring Girl, they playfully explore the tradition of cross-dressing in theatre and how clothes are used to express identity.


The Roaring Girl was written in 1612 by Thomas Dekker and Thomas Middleton. It features Moll Cutpurse, a character based on the real life Mary Frith.

The term ‘Roaring Girl’ comes from the much more common phrase ‘Roaring Boy’. ‘Roaring Boy’ was used to describe wild, outspoken men who committed petty crime and brawled on the streets.


Moll was a notorious ‘Roaring Girl’ who publically shocked and challenged the authorities by wearing men’s clothing while performing on stage, both were illegal at the time.


Theatre has used cross-dressing throughout history to challenge norms of femininity and shock audiences.

What does clothing mean today in a world where women wear trousers, men have long hair and clothing is often gender neutral?

Cross-dressing refers to wearing clothing and accessories commonly linked with the opposite sex within a particular society. Cross-dressing has been used for purposes of disguise, comfort, and theatrical effect throughout history as well as to shock and challenge social norms.

The actual determination of what constitutes cross-dressing is largely socially constructed.
As societies are becoming more global in nature, both men’s and women’s clothing are adopting styles of dress associated with other cultures. Traditional gender stereotypes have been challenged and reset in recent years.  Popular culture is full of examples where lines have been crossed. One of the earliest celebrities to challenge gender stereotypes was Elvis Presley in the 1950s.  His wardrobe and use of makeup led traditionalists to riot. Presley inspired other artists in the 1960s, such as the Beatles and the Rolling Stones, to experiment with long hair and neutral costumes. Many musicians challenged gender stereotypes, for example Jimi Hendrix who wore women’s shirts, scarves, and high-heeled boots.

These trends have arguably gone on to reshape fashion. In contemporary society, we are less bound by ‘dress’ as a way of defining what is male or female.  Gender can have ambiguity and fluidity as demonstrated by the characters created by the Girls Who Draw.

website link

Suitable for all ages.

Curated by Capsule and the RSC.

Anke Weckmann
Originally from a little town in northern Germany, Anke Weckmann has been living and working in London since 2001. She is happiest when she can draw all day, go on adventures with her sketchbook, eat watermelons and meet new people and cats.
Her work is inspired by great female characters including Pippi Longstocking, Katniss Everdeen, Lisbeth Salander, Margaret Tenenbaum, Anne Shirley and Cassie Ainsworth.

Elle Donlon
Graduated from the University of the Arts London in 2011 with a BA (Hons) in Fine Art: Drawing. Working in numerous art galleries in London after graduating, she returned to Birmingham in 2013 to spend more time making work.
After producing a lot of word-based art in college, she has returned her focus to illustration. She worked in screen printing for a short while and now runs a record shop based in East-side Birmingham with her partner. In the last year she has come to focus on a career in tattooing and has begun translating her designs into tattoos.

Jane McGuinness
Jane is a Scottish-born illustrator currently based in Birmingham. She creates work in a variety of forms including screen prints, comics and picture books; and she likes to make books by hand when she can. Frequent points of inspiration are songs and folk tales, the past, animals and nature.

Karoline Rerrie
Karoline is an illustrator who creates images by hand using drawing and silk screen printing. She sees her work as a craft and strives to maintain a handmade element which is what initially led her to explore printmaking. Karoline now designs, makes and sells a range of hand printed multiples including greetings cards, artists’ books and prints.
Collaboration and participation are important elements of Karoline’s creative practice; she shares her skills and ideas with others through a variety of projects. These include co-ordinating group exhibitions and the publication of limited editions.
Her illustrations are characterised by the use of bold outlines, pattern and bright colours. As well as printmaking she is interested in folk art and craft from around the world. Her most recent designs are inspired by Eastern European crafts including Russian Loubok prints, traditional Polish paper cuts, Bulgarian costumes and dolls.

Kristyna Baczynski
An illustrator, comic artist and designer. Freelancing from her studio in Leeds, she creates books, comics, zines, posters, apparel, stationery and more for a wide range of clients including Chipotle, Anorak, Digital Arts and NME.
As well as publishing her own comics, Kristyna has worked with publishers in the UK and internationally such as Image, Blank Slate Books, Solipsistic Pop, The Stool Pigeon, Bimba, Hic+Hoc and Tiny Pencil.

Laura Kate Chapman
An illustrator currently living in Liverpool. Graduated from Liverpool John Moores University in 2008 with a first class degree in Graphic Arts. Her illustrative style is best described as lovingly meticulous, weaving intricate patterns into her work, creating a visual world that gives the mundane a more magical feel and above all else to make people smile.
With a passion for typography, constantly doodling ideas for new letter forms and exploring how type and image can work together to become one beautifully designed piece of work. Type can be just as visually exciting as a piece of imagery and Laura takes an illustrative approach to creating letter forms so they retain a hand drawn quality.

Mina Braun
Mina was born and raised in Germany, where she studied visual communication at the Kassel Academy of Art between 1999 and 2003. She then completed both a BA Hons in Illustration and a Master of Design at the Edinburgh College of Art. As a student Mina discovered her love for printmaking, particularly screen printing.
In 2011 Mina had her first solo-exhibition Time to Wonder in Edinburgh’s Red Door Gallery. Together with a group of illustrators Mina is currently working towards her latest exhibition in St Margaret’s House in Edinburgh, where her studio is based.
Her prints and illustrations have been used for several publications in literature and music; some of her prints will be published in France this year with Éditions L’aucèu libre. Mina is currently represented by LBA Books, Literary Agency in London.

Ruth Green
Ruth is a screen-printer based in Birmingham. Her brightly coloured compositions are inspired by mid-century design, and by the animals and plants of the British countryside. High quality paper is used to make prints in small, collectable editions. Each one is hand signed, and numbered. Ruth’s work has been published as a range of greetings cards by Cardmix. The prints have appeared in ‘Elle Decoration’ and the design book, Print and Pattern 2. In 2011, Tate Publishing produced Ruth’s first book for children, Noisy Neighbours. She is Stanley’s Plan with Tate, due for release in 2015.