Henley Street Theater will be presenting William Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar on March 28th at Gottwald Playhouse.
The show’s Director, James Ricks, has set Shakespeare’s best known tragedy is in a contemporary world, presenting an exciting interpretation that grapples with the universal themes of betrayal, patriotism and honor, asking the question: Who decides what is best for their country?
Ricks doesn’t want there to be any confusion about using the early 20th century to represent the show’s political history, but only to juxtapose how we interpret politics today with the rule of Julius Caesar then.
“We aren’t likening it to any particular regime…[or a] particular commentary of that era,” said Ricks. “But the regime is about exploring the line between personal ambition and patriotism…I set the play in the 21st century to identify the sort of dark corners of personal ambition and how we interpret it.”
What interests Ricks the most about the production is how the political ideologues of the time were utilizing songs and visual arts to be a cog in the ruling political bodies. “[This era] represents the last time the political machine utilized the arts so comprehensively. Political messages were being communicated through song, art literature. There was no multimedia…but there were [multimedia] for the arts.”
This iteration of Julius Caesar sports a very supportive and fun cast who are fully committed to making this world more realistic. Local favorites will be making appearances such as Daniel Moore, who will be playing the role of Cassius, and Melissa Johnston Price, who will be playing the role of Calpurnia.
Something that the theater explores in the play is the bloody untrustworthiness of politics of the time. “It’s a pretty bloody show,” said Ricks. “Where the stakes are pretty high. Nobody can really trust anyone.”
While this is their version of Julius Caesar with a specific contextual aesthetic, and there will be some crossover bringing question to the realism of the show, however, it is ultimately very much a world the production has created which promises to be a bloody good time.
The show will be playing March 29 – April 20. Tickets can be purchased on Richmond CenterStage website here.