Drama department to take on Shakespeare’s ‘Julius Caesar’ for fall play

September 10, 2018 — by Marisa Kingsley and Jessica Wang

After a long hiatus, Shakespeare is coming back to the drama department for the fall play, “Julius Caesar.” There will be four performances in the McAfee Center on Nov. 10-11 and Nov 16-17. Because “Julius Caesar” is part of the English 10 curriculum, drama teacher Sarah Thermond hopes more sophomores will attend the shows.

The drama department has not performed Shakespeare since 2013 with their rendition of the comedy “Much Ado About Nothing,” and Thermond foresees certain obstacles for the upcoming cast.

Unlike many other Shakespeare plays, “Julius Caesar” does  not have much dialogue between characters; instead, the play is heavy in lengthy monologues by main characters. Some parts of these speeches may have to be cut for the students’ convenience, but options are limited to maintain the script’s iambic pentameter, Thermond said.

“I’ve never before done a show where I need as many actors as I do for this one who have to able to be engaging for an extended speech,” Thermond said. “That’s absolutely something we’ll work on and develop in rehearsals.”

The students must also overcome the difficulties of adopting Shakespearean language. “Julius Caesar” demands that many of the actors have a strong grasp of Shakespearean language for major roles like Brutus, Marc Antony and Caius.  

Junior Elodie Torres has participated in the fall play for the past two years. Compared to the previous shows, performing Shakespeare is a completely different challenge, she said.

“I think it will require a lot more close analysis than something in modern language,” Torres said. “I do feel better about it because I spent the summer doing Shakespeare-related stuff and I’m familiar with the play, but it certainly presents a different challenge.”

Yet Thermond hopes people who aren’t as confident in their Shakespearean will try out for the cast as well. She said this will be a chance for other students to gain more confidence without feeling intimidated or overwhelmed.  

Thermond also expressed an interest in modernizing the production. Most of the action happens offstage, with a character who then summarizes what happened to the audience. In a previous show she directed, students played video projections as newsreel footage of what happened. This way, the audience has two means of understanding.   

Because many of the characters’ main contributions to the play are long speeches, Thermond is looking for actors who present the monologue with new ideas and emotional depth during auditions. However, since there are a large number of group scenes, she stresses the need for physical and facial actors who are engaging even without any main dialogue.

“Honestly, it’s almost like I’m looking for two different sets of skills,” Thermond said.

Auditions took place on Sept. 11 and 12 and rehearsals will begin during the final weeks of September.

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