FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
Friends, Romans, Countrymen (and Women): JULIUS CAESAR, by William Shakespeare
Chesapeake Shakespeare Company, Sept. 29 – Oct. 29, 2017
BALTIMORE (Sept. 18, 2017) — With Julius Caesar and the Roman conspirators wearing suits instead of togas, the classic tragedy of political morals and personal ambition marches into the present September 29 through October 29, 2017, at Chesapeake Shakespeare Company, 7 South Calvert Street, Baltimore, MD 21202.
Caesar’s adoring fans and paparazzi will give him the celebrity treatment as he returns victorious from foreign wars. Theatre audiences will be encouraged to cheer his homecoming, too. However, as every school kid knows, the great general’s amassed power makes him the target of scheming senators, some with noble intent and others who covet power for themselves.
The real story is what happens after Caesar’s assassination: Did the conspirators’ bloody act save the Republic from dictatorship? The answer is in the history books and the breathtaking civil war scene that erupts on the stage: It’s a resounding “no,” which explains why many Shakespeare scholars consider this 400-year-old play a cautionary tale for all times.
“The play deals with protecting a form of government that worked (for some) and is suddenly threatened by change,” says Julius Caesar director, Michael Tolaydo, who forbade designers from indulging any temptation to superimpose the story on a recognizable head of state, political party, or current social movement. To make it about Trump or any sitting official distracts the audience from Shakespeare’s words, he says. “Let the audience decide for themselves.”
Tolaydo is an accomplished Shakespearean actor and director, and professor emeritus at St. Mary’s College of Maryland, where he served for 25 years as professor in the Department of Theatre, Film and Media Studies. Shakespeare’s Caesar dies before intermission, Tolaydo notes: “The play is not really about Caesar or any particular leader: It is about trying to protect the Republic and the voices of the Roman citizens. One can argue that very notion of protecting the citizens’ voices is at the heart of America’s current political situation. Julius Caesar speaks of our times right now.”
Tolaydo’s contemporary Caesar has a diverse cast and reinterprets several familiar characters as women, including Antony (our Antonia), who is Caesar’s friend and avenger, and Octavius (our Octavia), who is Caesar’s adopted heir and the future Roman emperor. This is not new, Tolaydo adds: Women heads of state around the world are making headlines.
Performances of Julius Caesar are Thursdays at 7:30pm, Fridays and Saturdays at 8pm, Saturdays and Sundays at 2pm. The 10am weekday school matinees with actor-audience talkbacks are also open to the public with limited seating. Prices are $16-$50. The online ticket calendar is at ChesapeakeShakespeare.com. Box Office: 410-244-8570.
JULIUS CAESAR: Community Conversations and Special Events:
Thursday, October 5, 2017 – Interpretations of Julius Caesar: A Gallery Talk at the Walters Art Museum with Chesapeake Shakespeare actors presenting scenes from Julius Caesar during a tour of the museum’s world-class collection of Roman antiquities. Our tour guide is Lisa Anderson-Zhu, Associate Curator of Art of the Mediterranean, 5000 BCE – 300 CE. When: 6:30pm – 7:15pm, on Thursday, Oct. 5, 2017, at the Walters Art Museum, 600 N. Calvert Street, Baltimore. Admission: Free
Sunday, October 15, 2017 – “The Women of Julius Caesar”: A Community Conversation with Dr. Judith Peller Hallett, Professor of Classics at UMD and an expert on the women of Rome. This 1pm pre-show talk at Chesapeake Shakespeare explores the lives of the political wives in the play (Caesar’s wife Calpurnia and Brutus’ wife Portia), and the play’s reinterpreted political leaders, Mar Antonia and Octavia. Patrons may combine the free 1pm talk with a ticket to the 2pm performance of Julius Caesar. Get October 15 tickets at ChesapeakeShakespeare.com.
Thursday, October 26, 2017 – “Lawyers’ Night” at Julius Caesar, pre-show reception from 5:30pm, with 7:30pm performance of Julius Caesar. Bar Association members and others in the legal community gather to discuss using the performing arts in professional development, with The Studio at the Chesapeake Shakespeare Company. Email email@example.com for details.
October 4, 5, 12, 13, 18, and 20, 2017 — New 10am Weekday Matinees of Julius Caesar for school groups are also open to the public with general admission seating. These matinees encourage audience engagement and learning. A talkback with actors follows the play. Public seats are $25, available at ChesapeakeShakespeare.com. For school rates and reservations, email firstname.lastname@example.org.