Theatre

The Madras Players brings back the charm of the original Julius Caesar

An extensive process of audition led to the final cast, of which many are amateurs and first-timers.

Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar will never lose its sheen: this is something we all agree on.

At some point or the other, we all have crossed paths with this iconic body of work. This is the belief by which director Shaan Katari Libby revisits the work, without so much as a single change in the language of the original script. With a strong cast of 25, and an even stronger script, Julius Caesar by The Madras Players will take to stage for all lovers of the Bard, this weekend, once again proving the timelessness of Shakespeare.

An extensive process of audition led to the final cast, of which many are amateurs and first-timers. And the kind of response Shaan received for an open casting call was enough to restore her faith in the relevance of Shakespeare, in this day and age. “People who haven’t acted in years, came forward because of their love for the text. Some of them are even brand new to theatre. In fact, the response was so good that we had to turn down a lot of people,” says Shaan.

Julius Caesar was also the first Shakespearean text Shaan got introduced to, during her Class X board exams. “I instantly loved the play. The sheer number of interesting characters that it had fascinated me,” she recalls, adding that she plans to dedicate the play to her English teacher and her mother, who led her into the world of Shakespeare.

The Madras Players brings back the charm of the original Julius Caesar

In terms of the script, Shaan says that except for trimming the latter part — where Octavius and Mark Antony plot revenge — they have stayed true to the text. Original comic interludes do stay, but the director says that she hasn’t added anything to the script that would make it unnecessarily humorous or contemporary.

Physicality too, plays an integral part in the act, she continues. “I did not want the actors to be static while giving their monologues. Instead, I wanted them to explore their body language which will make it easier for the audience to follow the lines,” she says.The play uses instrumental music from Shakespeare’s time to complement the movement-oriented monologues and acts.

Interestingly, some of the senators too, are played by women. “In Shakespeare’s time, all the women’s characters were played by men. We have women in men’s roles, but the character names and references remain the same,” she concludes.

Julius Caesar will be performed at the Museum Theatre, Egmore, on March 1, 2 and 3, from 7.15 pm. Tickets priced at ₹600/400/300 can be bought on bookmyshow.com, or call 9381911977.

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Printable version | Apr 1, 2020 2:22:58 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/entertainment/theatre/the-madras-players-julius-caesar-in-chennai/article26385659.ece

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