Julius Caesar (2016/17)
Directed by Michael Pigott
Written by William Shakespeare
December 17, 2016 to January 29, 2017
“Tell me, good Brutus, can you see your face?"
Imagine a republic where absolute power is about to rest in the hands of a dangerous individual - charismatic, ambitious, increasingly narcissistic, paranoid and wildly popular. Each day brings greater fame, and with it, greater political immunity.
Do you dare incite change yourself? What if it means violence? Is there another way? Would you bloody your hands for freedom?
Shakespeare looks to the classical past for lessons about his present and finds challenges for our future, even today. How does a country recognise when it stands on the brink? What does it do about it?
Sport for Jove takes a simple, timeless approach to this great play, focused entirely on its streamlined and passionate language and its powerful arguments, letting you draw your own conclusions about the bloody mess we make when ambition, mercy, revolution and idealism clash.
“How many ages hence shall this, our lofty scene, be acted over in states unborn and accents yet unknown?”
Sport for Jove’s acclaimed Summer Shakespeare Season, now in it’s 8th successful year, has become a must-see on the NSW theatrical calendar. This year we go on a Roman Holiday – with two of Shakespeare's greatest plays - the epic tale of Julius Caesar and Antony and Cleopatra. Famed for their clarity, political modernity, poetry and their extraordinary pantheon of characters, real men and women who defined the very pulse of their age and who are rekindled in the possibilities of every political leader and every political machination of the 21st Century. Their rise and thunderous fall threw down to us a set of challenges we may never master. How do we lead a nation? How do we follow a leader? What sparks revolution? What suppresses it? What price freedom…?
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?
"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."
Emily Richardson | Upstaged Reviews
Publicity and Rehearsal Photography by Marnya Rothe | Production Photography by Kate Williams
Amy Kersey | Casca, a senator / Varro, a soldier / mob
Berynn Schwerdt | Cinna the poet / Metellus Cimber , a senator / Titinius, a soldier / Mob
Bryce Youngman | Marcus Antonius
Christopher Stollery | Cobbler / Servant to Antony / Artemidorus / Claudius, a soldier
Damien Ryan | Marcus Brutus, Praetor of Rome
Felicity McKay | Octavius, neice to Caesar/ Trebonius , a senator/ Mob
Georgia Scott | Lucia, daughter to Brutus and Portia / Mob
Giles Gartrell-Mills | Calphurnia, husband to Caesar / Popilius Lena, a senator/ Messala, a soldier / Mob
Megan Drury | Caius Cassius, Praetor of Rome
Oliver Burton | Decius Brutus, a senator / Eros, a soldier / Mob
Rupert Reid | Cinna, a senator / Pindarus, a soldier / Marullus, a tribune / Mob
Suzanne Pereira | Julius Caesar
Teresa Jakovich | Portia, wife to Brutus / Flavius, a Tribune / mob / Strato a soldier
Tony Taylor | Soothsayer / Lepidus, a senator / mob
Angelika Nieweglowski | Design Assistant
Bryce Halliday | Sound Designer
Emma Paterson | Assistant Stage Manager
Georgia Hopkins | Designer
Jeremy Page | Technical Manager
Martin Kinnane | Lighting Designer
Michael Pigott | Director
Paisley Williams | Stage Manager
Scott Witt | Fight/Movement