The Barbican Theatre announced the cast for Hamlet on Wednesday and confirmed that Benedict Cumberbatch will be returning to the London stage. The actor will play Denmark’s apathetic prince in the Shakespeare production. This will be Cumberbatch’s first major stage role since his 2011 performance in Frankenstein at the National Theatre.
The actor’s role of Sherlock has catapulted the actor into serious stardom. Female fans of the Sherlock actor have adopted a nickname for themselves. Adding to the list of Beliebers, Twihards, Little Monsters, the fans are calling themselves ‘Cumberbitches.’ I can see how the nickname came to be, but it feels degrading and inappropriate when attached to Cumberbatch. The actor seems to agree, and admitted in an interview that he was also concerned with the name. He says that while he is flattered by the attention from fans, the term does not favor feminism and hopes another name can be found.
I have to agree wholeheartedly with him. How would it look for the actor to return to the prestigious London stage and have fans waving banners outside that said, ‘Cumberbitches’? It would embarrass the sophisticated actor, who is an intellectual, and a perfect gentleman. If he would never call a woman a bitch, why would his fans attach that negativity to him? Hopefully for his sake, ‘Cumberbabes’ will catch on.
Fans will have to contain their excitement and wait until May to find out where and how to purchase tickets to see Cumberbatch in Hamlet. The Barbican Theatre is also excited to have the actor in the play. Producer Sonia Friedman called him one of the most extraordinary and skilled actors in his generation. Clearly fans agree. There has been an incredible demand to buy seats already, and the play does not begin until August 2015. The theater is preparing themselves for the rush of tickets for the 1,166 seats. The production will run for 12 weeks.
Hopefully, when the play starts, the fan name of ‘Cumberbitches’ will be gone. The term seems more fitting for a Hollywood reality actor instead of a serious stage actor. Cumberbatch has been in British Theater since 2005, when he was in a production of Hedda Gabler, and 2010 in After the Dance. He also co-starred in the production of Frankenstein in 2011. His role as the villain in Star Trek was played brilliantly, bringing a certain credibility and sophistication to the film. Benedict deserves respect and admiration, and his name should never be attached to such a kitsch term.
When the actor returns to the London stage for Hamlet, he will be following in the footsteps of a long list of actors, who have never had a fan group called ‘Cumberbitches’. I’m sure the list of elite actors who also played the role of the prince, Ralph Fiennes, Jude Law, and David Tennant, would have also put a stop to their fans using such a derogatory term. One can only hope that in admiring Cumberbatch for his poise, grace, and intellect, the characteristics will rub off on his fans and elevate them as well.
By Sara Petersen