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Making a comeback: OSF actor finds joy in representation

This is Rachel Crowl's second season with OSF. She says she plays male and female roles, which is prompting important questions.

Posted: May 7, 2019 6:21 PM
Updated: Apr 28, 2021 10:30 AM

ASHLAND, Ore. -- An actor with the Oregon Shakespeare Festival is hoping her roles will prompt questions about gender, and break down barriers about what it means to be a trans actor. 

This is Rachel Crowl's second season with OSF. She says she plays male and female roles, which is prompting important questions.

"They're getting past the 'Oh, trans--I don't know -- tell me about all these weird things,'" Crowl said. "They're asking questions that are really about identity and 'What does it mean to be male, what does it mean to be female, and what does it mean to be gender nonconforming?'"

Crowl is playing Duke Senior and is in the ensemble in "As You Like It." She's also in the ensemble for "Between Two Knees."

She says she's received messages from people -- young kids and parents -- for thanking her for representing the trans community.

"I get letters. I get Instagram messages from young queer kids who are trying to figure things out," Crowl said. "I get messages from moms who are so excited that their kid got to see someone like them." 

This marks a comeback for Crowl, who didn't feel there were roles for the trans community after she transitioned back in 2005.

"For actors like me, there was nothing," Crowl said. "You can play the dead body that the cops make fun of, or you can play the live body that the cops make fun of but that's about it."

She taught in Wisconsin for 12 years, and made a return to acting in a private film in California in 2016. She said she never wants to return to an office job again. 

"I would very much like to come back," Crowl said. "There are definitely shows next season that are right up my alley, I think." 

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