Modern, female-led ‘Julius Caesar’ opening at Quintero Theatre
The School of Theatre and Dance will premiere a postmodern version of Shakespeare’s classic play, “Julius Caesar,” Friday at the Quintero Theatre.
The politically-charged play is set in ancient Rome and deals with the reign of Julius Caesar and the Senate-led plots against him.
“The energy of feeling like you’re a part of a political movement was something that I felt we could all kind of tap into,” the play’s director, Sara Becker, said. “An important facet of ‘Julius Caesar’ is that it examines rhetoric and how people persuade each other, which is not really taught today.”
Acting graduate student Jacob Offen will portray Brutus.
“When it comes to conflict, it is a matter of how one has a healthy debate, rhetoric and forum in order to talk about issues that affect everyone today,” Offen said. “It’s really essential to learn how to use language in order to discuss what it is to be human.”
Offen said he admires Shakespeare’s unique ability to put the human condition into words unlike any other writer.
Acting junior Madeline Calais, who plays the role of Julius Caesar, said the show teaches people to think for themselves and avoid being swayed by people just because they are in power.
“That’s so important because I think a lot of people our age, in my generation, they’re swayed so easily just because a person has a certain title or something,” Calais said. “This show will tell people and show people that you need to think for yourself, and how important it is to think for yourself and not believe everything you hear.”
Although the actors will still perform the original Shakespeare text, the show will put a postmodern twist on the classic play. The actors will wear modern costumes, and the cast will consist of an equal amount of men and women.
The original play has only two female characters—Portia and Calpurnia—but Becker cut Calpurnia’s lines, gave them to male character Mark Antony and cast Julius Caesar as a woman.
“I was interested in doing Shakespeare with a mix of men and women,” Becker said. “When Shakespeare was performing, women weren’t allowed on stage, so he didn’t write a lot of women roles.”
Calais said the role of Julius Caesar didn’t change much, and she approached it the way she would any other character.
“It’s just really learning who Julius Caesar is as a person, rather than a man, and not being scared that (the role) is made for a man,” Calais said. “Really, it’s just a person trying to get something done.”
Becker said she wanted the play to be modern but did not want to dress the cast in business suits. The costumes are contemporary, but they are not necessarily from today’s fashion.
“I think it’s nice to do a piece that is now, but it’s not,” Becker said. “Because you have that little bit of distance that helps you to look at what the play is about but with fresher eyes.”
The Quintero Theater has been transformed into a theatre in the round stage, where the audience will sit on all sides rather than just facing the front. Offen said the audience will be very close, almost on the stage, and that it was made to resemble a hall or a senate house.
“It’s one of the most immersive sort of experiences that I’ve done anywhere, because of people being able to sit so close to you in the theater,” Offen said.
Julius Caesar will run Friday through Sunday as Feb. 22 to 24. Tickets are available here.