Students put on a modernized version of Shakespeare tragedy
By Sarah Emmerling
NIAGARA UNIVERSITY, N.Y. – Theatre’s second production of the semester, William Shakespeare’s “Julius Caesar,” took the stage from Nov. 2-12 with a total 13 performances. The show was directed by Artistic Director Steve Braddock and featured a talented cast of 14 students. Although the notorious events of the play take place during the Roman Empire, Braddock chose to modernize this political drama, calling attention to the current political climate in the world.
The cast was primarily made up of senior theatre students, who have been exposed to Shakespeare at Niagara through various acting courses. Many also studied abroad in London this past summer, where they saw numerous Shakespeare productions, spent hours in class studying the language, and were taught by professors who have performed at the Globe.
Nick Edwards, a senior theatre major who played Metellus Cimber and Volumnius, was one of the study abroad students.
“The experience that many of us already had before start- ing this process was so helpful,” Edwards stated. “Shakespeare’s language is difficult to master, but we’ve had so many opportunities to work with it here. We also had a couple of underclassmen in the cast, who threw themselves into the experience and were phenomenal.
Working with the cast was just incredible,” said Edwards.
In addition to the difficulty of the language, audience members also had to navigate through the various characters actors portrayed. The play was originally written for about 40 actors. Braddock cut many of them and cast everyone but the four leads in two or more roles. In addition, some scenes were cut from the show to shorten the run time but prerecorded and played in monitors in the lobby during intermission.
Braddock also made the choice to include more women in his production. Originally, the only women in the show were Brutus’ wife, Portia, and Caesar’s wife, Calpurnia. Braddock chose to make some of the conspirators women as well. He also cast Brutus, Caesar, and Antony as women.
“A lot of the roles are gender swapped,” Kevin Trala, a senior theatre performance major added. “Really important parts are played by women, which just illustrates the female empowerment that is so prevalent and embraced by today’s culture.”
“Julius Caesar” had a successful run. The next show NU Theatre will present is “She Loves Me,” a musical opening on Nov. 30 and running until Dec. 10. NU students get one free ticket by presenting their ID at the box office.