Home Arts Julius Caesar: Kramer turns the tables

Julius Caesar: Kramer turns the tables

by Archives March 13, 2002

The Concordia theatre department’s lively and innovative adaptation of William Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar took to the stage last Thursday night in the FC-Smith Auditorium on Loyola Campus.
The production, directed by Greg Kramer, was brought to life with an amazing cast of 18 actors who assumed 45 different characters. One of the most distinguishing characteristics of Kramer’s production was the casting of several female actors in traditionally male-occupied roles.
Although his casting decision was a somewhat risky move (especially since many traditionalists are not very accommodating towards drastic modifications of the classical version), Kramer commented that the decision “is of little consequence when we are dealing with political matters – a ‘man’ of Rome refers to status rather than gender.”
Indeed, the decision was a great success and the skill and talent of the actors added credibility and dynamism to their performance. Jeanne Bowser, who played Caska and Pindarus, was one of the female actors whose ability to assume the personality of her character proved that gender was no limitation.
Although Kramer made reference in the program guide to the challenges that performing Elizabethan drama imposes upon actors, the students – some of whom were appearing on stage for their very first time – performed their roles with great spirit, intuition, passion, and theatrical force.
Among some of the most memorable performances were those of Carol Hodge, who intuitively portrayed the mystical character of the Soothsayer; Graham Cuthbertson, whose talent and skill for performing Shakespearean drama made him a natural choice to play the part of Brutus; and Sylvain Dessureault, whose intensity and fire made him an apt and believable Cassius. Also, Joshua Lewis played the character of Mark Antony with so much passion and emotion that it was easy to forget that he was actually acting.
In addition to an excellent interpretation and performance of both Marellus and Cicero, the range and power of Jocelyn Wickett’s hauntingly beautiful voice resonated across the stage and established atmosphere throughout the play.
The actors, some of whom performed up to five different characters in the adaptation, switched into their changing roles with ease and clarity. Despite the fact that they did not disguise themselves by changing costumes, their accomplished acting skills together with Kramer’s careful and concise stage planning made the changes easy to follow.
As Kramer told the Thursday Report, “That was a tough thing in the casting, making sure that we had enough numbers for the battle at the end, because people die and I didn’t want them to suddenly come back to life again three scenes later (as another character) – unless they’re a ghost.”
The play was staged in the same manner as were the original Shakespearean plays written for the Elizabethan stage. The actors performed “in the round” on a small stage, which allowed for great intensity and intimacy with the audience. As in the original performances as well, the balcony above the stage was used to add dimension, action, and movement to the performance.
In keeping with the original mood of the play, there was scarce scenery and props on the stage. This allowed for continuous and fluid movement, as well as for a greater focus and intensity on the actors and the script.
Indeed, the small set changes were implemented by the actors themselves, and in such a seamless fashion that, together with the strategic placement of characters and timing of speeches and music, created a continuous and harmonious flow of action artistically woven with the choreography of a great ballet.
Among the most memorable scenes of the play are: the ghost scene in which Brutus’ wife Portia comes back from the dead, breathing icy mist from her bluish mouth in a final poetic gesture; Julius Caesar’s death scene, in which the Soothsayer symbolically paints a smear of raspberry-stained blood across his lifeless body; and the beautifully staged battle scene between Brutus and Cassius’ and Antony and Octavius’s armies.
Performances of The Tragedie of Julius Caesar continue at 8 p.m. from this Wednesday to Friday, and at 2 p.m. on Saturday March 16, 2002. Tickets are $5 for students, and can be reserved at the Box Office: 848-4742.

Related Articles

Leave a Comment