The senators of Rome emerge from marble columns and circle Julius Caesar one after the other, listening to his speech to the group. Brutus, Cassius and different conspirators are nervous and afraid, as they anticipate finishing up their plan of assassinating the beloved common. As they march up the steps in sync, the ominous music warns the viewers of what’s to return. After which one after the other they stab Caesar ruthlessly.
Theater and efficiency research’ (TAPS) departmental manufacturing of “Julius Caesar” carried out in Memorial Auditorium Thursday by way of Saturday. On a grandiose set, the passionate actors used highly effective voices to recreate a political wrestle from greater than two thousand years in the past and infuse it with fashionable relevance.
Shakespeare could be difficult to grasp, not to mention carry out. Bringing the characters to life in a contemporary context required an understanding of the pathos of the speeches given the political context. Regardless of the monologues being lengthy and arduous to digest at occasions, the actors delivered them compellingly and with intention.
The manufacturing featured many intriguing gender swaps. The leaders of the conspirators, Brutus (performed by Sierra Michelle ’25) and Cassius (performed by Esther Ji ’25), are initially male characters however portrayed by female-identifying scholar actors. This was sudden to many who, like my classmates in COLLEGE 102: “Citizenship within the twenty first Century” and I, have studied the play and characters beforehand.
Director of the present and assistant professor of theater and efficiency research Michael Rau made these characters girls and altered the gender pronouns within the monologues to incorporate phrases like “sisterhood” and “a girl of honor.” In impact, the play turns into an influence wrestle during which two girls conspire in opposition to Caesar (Danny Ritz ’24) and his right-hand man Mark Antony (Marlon Washington II ’22 M.S. ’23) — two males in political management.
Whereas the stage was the principle venue of actions within the play, Rau made an intriguing selection of participating the entire auditorium. Particularly, at occasions when it was an actor’s flip to enter, they might emerge from the viewers and stroll onto the middle stage. This created an interactive efficiency the place the viewers nearly grew to become part of the forged, experiencing the occasions moderately than viewing them from the skin.
Some of the thrilling components of the efficiency was the magnificent set. Designed by TAPS lecturer Nina Ball, the set was intricately layered, accommodating scene modifications from marble columns of the Roman court docket, to Brutus’ front room, to battlefields in seconds.
Moreover, Rau included mass media into the efficiency. The usage of know-how by the ensemble of characters who appeared within the viewers would permit the viewers to mirror on how the existence of media can form political occasions.
This was obvious at Caesar’s funeral, the place Mark Antony advances from the viewers to ship a heartfelt speech to the Roman residents, questioning the respect of the conspirators and stirring residents to riot. He enumerates the great deeds of Caesar whereas repeating, “However Brutus is an honorable lady,” insinuating to the viewers the brutality of the murders. The ensemble members, holding cell telephones of their fingers, file him in movies, which grow to be dwell movies projected onto the stage.
This symbolizes how know-how is a robust but harmful methodology to specific and promote concepts in right this moment’s world. Nonetheless, the cell telephones have been startling, as they didn’t match the unique time interval the play is about in. They appeared misplaced amidst the Shakespearean language and will have been higher included.
The play required the viewers to pay very shut consideration to digest all the knowledge and keep away from lacking something necessary. It additionally left the viewers pondering who’s at blame within the story, Caesar or the conspirators.
As Rau has stated within the director’s notes, “This play is a puzzle that resists easy narratives, with no clear moral middle.” The theme and idea of the play are necessary and related to right this moment’s society, as we navigate the right way to make the world a greater place. In any case, the ambiguities of morals and the absence of an goal proper and incorrect in “Julius Caesar” apply to fashionable politics and polarization as properly.
Editor’s Observe: This text is a assessment and consists of subjective ideas, opinions and critiques.