Julius Caesar Play | Sport For Jove

Director's Notes

How many ages hence
Shall this our lofty scene be acted over
In states unborn and accents yet unknown!


It has been a fascinating period of time to be rehearsing this play when politics is at the forefront of everybody’s minds.  There have been many occasions during our rehearsal period where we have discussed and commented on what has been happening globally to help make sense of words written 400 years ago. We have also been working the other way around-  our discussions not only helped us make sense of the play but also helped us make sense of what is going on in the world at the moment.  

Whilst this is one of the most tightly written of Shakespeare’s plays, it’s concentrated plot and taut language are offset by a series of ambiguities that make it a fascinating exploration of how we exist together as human beings. Rather than just stick to the facts Shakespeare uses the world’s most famous political assassination as a lynchpin for a wider exploration of the systems that human beings create in an attempt to co-exist without killing each other at any given time.   


The first of these ambiguities is the plays name- he calls the play The Tragedy of Julius Caesar, but the play is not really about Julius Caesar as a character as such. The play is however about the idea of Caesar, it is about the world Caesar has made. The play capitalises on our pre-existing notion of what Caesar represents within the cultural psyche.  With this he explores the idea that within any political system someone will attain a level of power where they cease to be an individual person and instead become a mere symbolic representation of a variety of points of view, depending on what side of the political spectrum you fall. Of course Shakespeare being Shakespeare also presents us with the character of Caesar, an all-powerful figure, yet someone who suffers from physical ailments and is deeply superstitious.

Of your philosophy you make no use,
If you give place to accidental evils.


Hinging the main arc of the plot around an ‘idea’ of Caesar allows Shakespeare to explore how different beliefs, systems of thought and points of view drive the other characters in the play. In the characters of Brutus, Cassius and Antony we are presented with three different world views. Brutus, the stoic idealist, who attempts to convince himself and others that an act done out of necessity creates a ‘bloodless murder’. Cassius, a realist, who sees the necessity of political action but someone who is willing to go to the extremes for both personal and political reasons and Antony, either an opportunist or just a brilliant soldier who thrives off chaos.    

It is the way Shakespeare presents these differing points of view that make the play so interesting as a drama. Everyone in this play is right at some point even when they do horrible things. Every character contradicts themselves at one point even when they say they are certain.  The play on this level becomes an exploration of how the things we tell ourselves and the ideals we follow are nothing more than a loose jumble of half-truths that we cling to in an attempt to find stability in an unstable world.

The real main character in this play is the crowd or ‘the mob’ – they are the first people we meet and form the basis of much of the action in the first two thirds of the play.  This is very interesting in itself for as much as this play explores poetry, rhetoric, politics and philosophical ideas, it also suggests that no matter what systems you put in place, when a large crowd of human beings gather in an environment of fear and apprehension there is every chance that a ‘mob mentality’ will take over at any moment.  How much have we seen this lately, on our smart phones and our televisions? How easily are we swayed?  
 

Read more
Read less

Reviews

"Julius Caesar and Antony and Cleopatra double bill is Sport for Jove at their Shakespearean best."
"The most pertinent adaptation of Shakespeare's play in this production is that the role of Julius Caesar is played by a female rather than male actor. Suzanne Pereira charges forward with the task with great gusto and impressive charisma."

Cast & Crew

Cast

Casca, a senator / Varro, a soldier / mob
Cinna the poet / Metellus Cimber , a senator / Titinius, a soldier / Mob
Marcus Antonius
Cobbler / Servant to Antony / Artemidorus / Claudius, a soldier
Marcus Brutus, Praetor of Rome
Octavius, neice to Caesar/ Trebonius , a senator/ Mob
Lucia, daughter to Brutus and Portia / Mob
Calphurnia, husband to Caesar / Popilius Lena, a senator/ Messala, a soldier / Mob
Caius Cassius, Praetor of Rome
Decius Brutus, a senator / Eros, a soldier / Mob
Cinna, a senator / Pindarus, a soldier / Marullus, a tribune / Mob
Julius Caesar
Portia, wife to Brutus / Flavius, a Tribune / mob / Strato a soldier
Soothsayer / Lepidus, a senator / mob

Crew

Design Assistant
Sound Designer
Assistant Stage Manager
Designer
Technical Manager
Lighting Designer
Director
Stage Manager
Fight/Movement