Julius Caesaris
 one of William Shakespeare’s most famous plays. As a director, how do you breathe fresh life into it?

With any classic text
 you need to look for elements within it that mean something to a contemporary audience; elements that are part of the ongoing discussion of what it is to be a human being, what it is to live in
a society in the here and now. For example, we have cast female actors in many of the main roles, including that of Caesar. This has the amazing effect of opening up different ideas within the play as well as eliminating preconceptions of what the play might be. It also allows us to be part of wider discussion about gender construction and power and the role that texts like these play in relation to both.

Is there an eerie political relevance to Julius Caesar today? 

Very eerie – the US election was going on all throughout our rehearsal period. The funny thing is that the play echoes so much of contemporary politics. One of the main characters in this play is the ‘mob’. We are constantly presented with a crowd of people easily swayed and quickly manipulated. The scariest thing is that nothing much has changed since the Romans, except that instead of standing in the Forum listening
to rhetoric, we are now swayed by ideas tweeted in 140 characters or less.

What drove Shakespeare’s own obsession with Roman history?

It is likely that story of the assassination of Julius Caesar was very much in the public consciousness at the time of writing. The play was written against the backdrop of political turmoil – a result of this was that at the time many books about the history of England were banned and/or destroyed. This forced many writers including Shakespeare to look further back in history for source material including the first English translation of Thomas North’s Plutarch’s Lives in 1579.

What makes Sport For Jove’s Outdoor Summer Season the perfect context in which to enjoy Shakespeare?

The audience are much closer to the mechanics
 of theatre – there is no backstage, the actors can be seen in costume before and after the show. Rather than detract from the experience, this enriches it. There is an immense generosity of spirit that is shared between audience and performers because of this.

Will the cast be familiar to Sport For Jove fans?

There are a few familiar faces for SFJ fans. We are very lucky to have Damien Ryan, the artistic director of the company, playing the role of Brutus, as well as company regular Megan Drury in the role
of Cassius. There are
also a few other familiar faces in both this and the production of Antony And Cleopatra that makes up the other half of this year’s summer season. This year, we are lucky to be working with Amy Kersey, Bryce Youngman, Camilla Ah Kin, Felicity McKay, Giles Gartrell-Mills, Rupert Reid and Tony Taylor for the first time.

Julius Caesar playsas part of The Sydney Hills Shakespeare In The Park atBella Vista Farm until Saturday January 7.

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