Julius Caesar

Julius Caesar                                                                                                        

From The Hampden-Sydney Tiger, February, 1999

B. Ciucci,Staff Writer

The Hampden-Sydney Department of Fine Arts will present Julius Caesar, by William Shakespeare as this Spring's theatrical production.  The play, chosen to complement the Political Rhetoric Symposium which will take place later this semester, offers a modern adaptation khakis with blazers in place of togas and guns in place of swords of Shakespeare's classic exploration into the nature of the political beast. 

The decision to produce Caesar was influenced heavily by the Political Rhetoric Symposium, organized by Professors James Schiffer and David Marion, which is slated for later this Spring. 

Shirley Kagan, the play's director, said, "They [Schiffer and Marion] asked me to put up a production that tied into the theme of political rhetoric."

Kagan indicated that she chose Caesar over other plays for, among other reasons, its famous showcase of two different spins on one event:  the speeches by Brutus and Antony after the assassination of Caesar.  According to Kagan, the play highlights the "theatrical nature of political spin."

It requires much work, however, to stage a production of Shakespeare.  "It takes a log more coordination. . . so many more people are involved," remarked Kagan.  Doug Banks, who plays Marc Antony, agreed, saying, "The cast is so much bigger. . . The Glass Menagerie was just a couple of people."

Logistical challenges are not the only challenges Banks notes:  ?The language makes it ten times harder to produce than other stuff. . . You have to get the meaning of every word down.? 

The most noteworthy aspect of this production is its modern twist.  Kagan said that this approach ?makes it a lot more accessible and makes the point that the things that were true two thousand years ago in politics are still true today.?  Clothing will be completely modern, as will the weapons used in battle scenes. 

Kagan is also working with David Ellsworth from the Fuqua International Communications Center to employ video screens in the play, which will give the impression that the speeches are being televised. 

The leading actors include Banks, playing Marc Antony; Bert English, playing Brutus; Nate Sommerville, playing Julius Caesar; and Nate Kouns, playing Lepidus. 

"Julius Caesar" will be performed February 26 and 27 and March 5 and 6.  All shows begin at 8 pm, and admission is free for students.