In this, the year marking the 400th anniversary of William Shakespeare’s death, the whole world seems to be buzzing with celebrations, retrospectives, histories, and new creative interpretations of the Bard’s life and life’s work. So, looking forward on the day of Repercussion Theatre’s 2016 summer season launch, it also feels appropriate to look back, and consider the historied nature of Shakespeare’s The Tragedy of Julius Caesar.
Julius Caesar is remarkable, in that the play possesses an intensely detailed stage history, with first-hand audience accounts dating back to 1599. (Please consider the exceptional article by John D. Cox, overviewing the play’s staging from the late sixteenth to early twenty-first century. http://internetshakespeare.uvic.ca/doc/JC_StageHistory/section/1/) The 1599 performance date distinguishes Julius Caesar as one of the first few of Shakespeare’s plays to have been staged at the Globe Theatre. This early staging was reportedly minimalist, with the stage largely unadorned, and the audience prompted to focus on the human element of the play. Over the years, Julius Caesar has been staged with widely varied cast sizes, ranging from performances of a disconcertingly conspiratorial small number, to enormous, immersive experiences with hundreds of actors engaging in huge battle scenes. The play has also been staged in different historical contexts – in multiple conceptions of Imperial Rome, as a harshly-lit Fascist rally (Orson Welles’ topical 1937 production), and as a contemporary African power-struggle (the Royal Shakespeare Company’s 2012 production), to highlight but a few.
Now, in our 28th season, Repercussion Theatre will present Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar for the first time in the company’s history. Still, although this is a first for Repercussion, the Theatre will move forward with a number of returning cast alumni, including Deena Aziz (Twelfth Night, ‘94), Miriam Cummings (Taming of the Shrew, ’12), Gitanjali Jain (Twelfth Night, ‘15), Darragh Kilkenny-Mondoux (Twelfth Night, ’15), and Samantha Megarry (Macbeth, ’11).
This year’s production plays host to numerous non-cast alumni as well, The creative team sees the return of Amanda Kellock (A Midsummer Night’s Dream, ’04, ‘05; Much Ado About Nothing, ’06; Les Fourberies de Scapin, ’07; Romeo and Juliet, ’10; Twelfth Night, ‘15), set designer Marjolaine Provençal (Twelfth Night, ‘15), and costume designer Susana Vera (Taming of the Shrew, ’12). Similarly, production staff has its share of alumni, including: Kate Hennigar (Twelfth Night, ‘15), Dustin Kagan-Fleming (Macbeth, ’11), and Michael Tonus (Twelfth Night, ‘15).
So, while The Tragedy of Julius Caesar might be a new addition to Repercussion Theatre’s repertoire, the latest Shakespeare-in-the-Park offering promises to play host to a fare few familiar faces. Repercussion Theatre is very excited to offer one of William Shakespeare’s most renowned historio-tragedies, and honoured to be able to do so in such esteemed company.