Written by Victoria Pallien
In the light of the recent presidential election, there is no better time for SCAD’s Classical Touring Company to produce “Julius Caesar.” A tragic tale of war, conspiracy and dictatorship, Caesar is betrayed by his close friend while another, Mark Antony, swears to avenge him and sparks a battle among comrades.
“On face value, he [Mark Antony] is your antagonist,” Burke Swanson, sophomore performing arts major, states about his character. “There are no good guys and there are no bad guys in this play and even Brutus, who in general is seen as your protagonist, has faults,” he mentions as he explains the reasoning and intent behind his character.
Admitting Antony is “kind of a jerk,” he said audience members will still be able to sympathize with the character’s conduct due to his intelligence and political awareness. “It is a very political show in the changing of power,” Swanson said, “What is interesting is you find a lot of connections [between] Rome and the United States.”
Thanks to director and professor Laurence Ballard and his previous connections with Tadashi Suzuki, the show is stylized in the Suzuki method, setting SCAD’s production of “Julius Caesar” apart from others.
Stage Manager Paige Howe states the show resembles Suzuki “with the fighting and the all-white [set design], and the way they [the actors] hold themselves and we do what’s called flocking…which you don’t see a lot of here.” As I understand it, the Suzuki Method of Actor Training revolves completely around the body, introducing exercises like tremors to emphasize how important an actor’s body is on stage and off.
Set Designer Meri Larsen, a senior production design major, acknowledges that this abstract way of Suzuki is a unique approach to the production. “It really does give the audience playroom to fill in the blanks of what they can relate it to in their own lives and their own viewpoints,” she says.
Both Larsen and Howe agreed that the play is relevant to the U.S.’s current political situation. “I would be lying if I said the presidential election didn’t have anything to do with this,” Howe said.
Carolyn Gibbs, Assistant Director and senior performing arts major, agrees that the timing of the play is a major factor in why it was selected—proving it’s far from a coincidence. She says, “something that Vivian [Majkowski] and [Laurence] Ballard have spoken about in rehearsal and with their process with choosing this show has been, you know, regardless of what someone’s views may be, we are in a very politically controversial time in our country,” referencing the prominent divide Americans have witnessed in the country in the past week.
“We’ve got a lot going on…so it’s really the perfect time to explore that theme within a show. It’s a great time to reach people in that way…whoever you are, something is going to speak to you in some way,” Gibbs argues.
With the historic shift of power in Rome came Shakespeare’s “Julius Caesar,” and with SCAD’s performing arts and production design majors comes a cast and crew oozing with raw talent. This combination is not one to be ignored.
Viewing for SCAD students and faculty will be in the Arnold Hall theater, Thursday, Nov. 17 at 8pm. Admission is free with a SCAD I.D. The tour will then travel to St. Anthony’s, St. Vincent’s, Windsor Forest, and Islands high schools throughout the week.