JULIUS CAESAR - MAY 2016, DIRECTED BY WILLIAM WOLFGANG
One of Shakespeare's most celebrated plays, Julius Caesar, took on new life at The Barn in May, 2016. This iconic story took audiences back 2,000 years into a surprisingly familiar world. Conspirators executed a sinister plot to save their republic from unavoidable doom, and plunged the world’s greatest empire into civil war. The OrangeMite Shakespeare Company provided this fast-paced political thriller to sold out audiences like never before, complete with armor-clad legions, epic battles, rousing speeches, angry mobs, and of course, a monstrous apparition.
Read the review from Broadway World on this production.
Unlike the production I directed last year at this time, this play is so full of famous quotations that one can easily become overwhelmed just trying to pick a favorite. Fortunately, I came into this production with my eye on a line spoken by Cassius, “Men at sometime were masters of their fates. / The fault, dear Brutus, is not in our stars, / But in ourselves, that we are underlings.” This powerful line has spoken to me ever since I read the play in 10th grade, and has proved inspirational for me artistically.
This autonomy, the control of one’s own destiny, Cassius argues is the secret to the success of the conspirator’s enterprise, however Shakespeare rarely leaves something so cut and dry. Destiny gets in the way of this autonomy that both Brutus chose to act on, and changes not only their lives but the future of Rome itself. “Beware the Ides of March” is a blatant reference to Caesar’s ultimate destiny that chooses to ignore, leading him to his ultimate fate. As it turns out, not all men are master’s of their fate, Caesar certainly wasn’t; fate was his master. But what of Brutus and Cassius?
The senator Cicero, who appears to during the violent and ominous storm to chat with Caska, appears incredibly apathetic to the supernatural events, parts this wisdom to us all, “Indeed it is a strange-disposed time; / But men may construe things after their fashion, / Clean from the purpose of the things themselves.”
One of my favorite activities to do as we put these productions together is to have dialogues with different cast members about issues like this, to discuss these large over-arching and often existential themes that make up Shakespeare’s work. It rounds out this very fun and rewarding experience. There’s nothing quite like musing about fate and free will while swinging a sword and wearing metal armor. As we wrap up our 17th Shakespeare play here in The Barn, I’d graciously thank the participants and volunteers for constantly taking OrangeMite’s destiny in exciting new directions. I look forward to many more of these experiences to come!
- William Wolfgang, Artistic Director