Imagine a country polarized by political ideology, dominated by political celebrity and mass media, and on the brink of revolution—sound familiar?
Experience Shakespeare’s “Julius Caesar,” the classic story of political intrigue and revolution, as you’ve never seen it before.
Directed by theater professor Jerry McGonigle, “Julius Caesar” opens Friday (March 4) at 7:30 p.m. in the Gladys G. Davis Theatre at West Virginia University. There will be performances March 5 and March 8-12 at 7:30 p.m. and matinees on March 6 and March 13 at 2 p.m.
This Shakespeare tragedy portrays the conspiracy in 44 B.C. against Roman dictator Julius Caesar, who appears in only three scenes.
“Julius Caesar” is about political intrigue, but in this WVU production, we have made it about political celebrity,” McGonigle said. “We have also set the play in a contemporary world where males and females share power equally.
“The actors wear business suits and in the second half, with the country at war, we have done our best to adapt it to the modern age, using war rooms and teleconferencing,” McGonigle said.
“There is a battle throughout the play—the battle for the will of the people, with the media in the middle of it. And the whole time we were rehearsing it, crazy stuff was going on. We would be rehearsing big riot scenes and I would go home and turn on the TV and see it really happening.
“It will be up to the individual audience members to take from it what they will about any relevance to today’s world,” he said.
The focus of the play is actually Caesar’s close friend, Brutus, and his struggle with his own conscience as the growing tide of public support turns him against Caesar.
Caesar’s assassination is one of the most famous scenes in the play. A soothsayer warns the dictator to “beware the Ides of March,” which he ignores before being assassinated at the capitol by conspirators.
Brutus is the last to stab him, whereupon Caesar utters the famous line “Et tu, Brute?” (You too, Brutus?)
Another famous scene is Mark Antony’s eloquent speech over Caesar’s corpse, which begins “Friends, Romans, countrymen, lend me your ears.” This speech turns public opinion against the assassins by manipulating the emotions of the common people and raising a mob to drive them from Rome as war breaks out.
The cast of “Julius Caesar” features WVU Theatre students Blaire Wendel as Julius Caesar; Audrey Ahern as Octavius Caesar; Matt Webster as Mark Antony; Greg Holt as Brutus; Kara Haas as Cassius; Greg Jernigan as Casca; Amy Byrne as Trebonius; Austin Barnett as Caius Ligarius; Steven Bell as Decius Brutus; Brandon Chowen as Metellus Cimber; Ashley Shade as Cinna; Megan Massie as Portia; and Adam Messenger as Lucius.
Ensemble performers, appearing as senators, citizens, soldiers and other characters, include Gailyn Neutzling, Margo Matty, Sarah Lemanski, Hannah Giddings, Chelsea Roper, Nick Hanni, Nick Parker and Justin Griffiths.
Scene design is by student Ben Lauer, costumes are by student Alex Vazquez, and the lighting designer is theater professor Alan McEwen. The master electrician is student Dean Wright. Sound design is by student Staci Hare and the prop master is Theatre professor Bob Klingelhoefer. Production manager is theater professor Steve Neuenschwander and technical director is student Andrew Moeggenborg.
Tickets are $20 for adults, $18 for WVU employees and senior citizens and $15 for WVU students. Special ticket prices are available for groups of ten or more.
For more information, visit the WVU Division of Theatre and Dance online: http://theatre.wvu.edu.
CONTACT: Charlene Lattea, College of Creative Arts
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