The senators of Rome emerge from marble columns and circle Julius Caesar one after the other, listening to his speech to the gang. Brutus, Cassius and different conspirators are nervous and afraid, as they anticipate finishing up their plan of assassinating the beloved basic. 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 battle from greater than two thousand years in the past and infuse it with fashionable relevance.
Shakespeare may 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 laborious to digest at instances, 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 surprising 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 ladies and altered the gender pronouns within the monologues to incorporate phrases like “sisterhood” and “a lady of honor.” In impact, the play turns into an influence battle by which two ladies conspire towards 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 primary venue of actions within the play, Rau made an intriguing selection of partaking the entire auditorium. Particularly, at instances 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 turned part of the solid, experiencing the occasions moderately than viewing them from the surface.
One of the thrilling parts of the efficiency was the magnificent set. Designed by TAPS lecturer Nina Ball, the set was intricately layered, accommodating scene adjustments from marble columns of the Roman courtroom, to Brutus’ front room, to battlefields in seconds.
Moreover, Rau included mass media into the efficiency. Using expertise by the ensemble of characters who appeared within the viewers would enable the viewers to replicate 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 glory of the conspirators and stirring residents to riot. He enumerates the nice deeds of Caesar whereas repeating, “However Brutus is an honorable girl,” insinuating to the viewers the brutality of the murders. The ensemble members, holding cell telephones of their arms, document him in movies, which change into reside movies projected onto the stage.
This symbolizes how expertise is a strong but harmful methodology to precise and promote concepts in in the present day’s world. Nonetheless, the cell telephones had 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 data and keep away from lacking something essential. 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 heart.” The theme and idea of the play are essential and related to in the present day’s society, as we navigate the way to make the world a greater place. In spite of everything, the ambiguities of morals and the absence of an goal proper and improper in “Julius Caesar” apply to fashionable politics and polarization as nicely.
Editor’s Word: This text is a evaluation and contains subjective ideas, opinions and critiques.