Wednesday, 31 May 2017

Julius Dramaturgy: Amanda LaBonte @ Edfringe 2017

Women. Power. Ambition. 
Australian company set to burst onto the fringe stage with their all-female Julius Caesar.

In this age of uncertainty, one thing is clear - Caesar will die, tonight.

The inevitable fate of this leader is real, it’s palpable and you are invited to witness this extraordinary act of assassination.

theSpace @ Niddry Upper (Venue 9)
Niddry St, Edinburgh 

August 14th to 19th 11:25am (70mins)
August 21st to 26th 7:40pm  

What was the inspiration for this performance?

This idea of the all female cast is born from the fact that on average there is only one female role to every four male roles in the canon of Shakespeare’s works.

Shakespeare is tantalising to actor and audience alike. His plays are filled with wonderful words to say and dramatic situations to witness, it is just a pity that he gives women less of a voice and consequence within his plays.

We have chosen Julius Caesar, a play not deeply embedded with gender issues and romantic story-lines, as the perfect vehicle to see the women take centre stage, speaking mighty verses about freedom, leadership and destiny.

Shakespeare’s words empower the speaker, and it’s wonderful for audiences to hear that power
and responsibility from female voices.

Is performance still a good space for the public discussion of ideas? 

Absolutely! Sitting in the theatre, exposed to a variety of characters/story lines - some that you can relate to, some that you aspire to and others that repulse you. Each teach you something about you, about the world. Some make you laugh and others challenge you , but good performance initiates discussion and helps us learn.

How did you become interested in making performance?

After finishing drama school, I quickly realised the phone wasn’t going to ring with Steven Spielberg offering me the “perfect” role to launch my career. 

 I learned that it was only me, as an artist, that was responsible for staying active and inspired. 

Twenty years on it’s the work that I have created that has been the most rewarding.

Is there any particular approach to the making of the show?

I think a script intensive workshop is a great way of approaching a classic like Julius Caesar. We spent three days away by the ocean in a beach house, eating good food and spending hours upon hours dissecting the script, analysing the language, investigating the characters and the relationships.  

This script intensive workshop was a great way for us, director and cast, to formulate the world we were going to “play” in and understand collectively where we want to go with it.

Does the show fit with your usual productions?

Yes it does.  Over the past 15 years we have toured Shakespearian comedies to wineries across Australia.  This is the first political tragedy we have tackled, and the first all female cast we have heralded.

What do you hope that the audience will experience?

This is what one of our audience members said
after our latest showing of this  - "Julius Caesar is one of the best productions I have experienced in recent times. I adored the gender ‘swap’ and it was brilliant to observe strong, powerful, articulate female characters on stage. This interpretation was utterly enthralling. The feelings of turmoil, dismay, betrayal and grief this performance evoked was tremendous... certainly not for the faint hearted!” 

We hope Edinburgh audiences experience and feel the same.

What strategies did you consider towards shaping this audience experience?

We used two main strategies to help shape audiences experience of our production - Firstly, casting 6 women to play these infamous roles. And secondly, editing the script to 70 minutes.  Both very deliberate choices with a lot of impact.

Fresh from successful seasons at The Adelaide and Melbourne Fringe Festivals (Australia), Essential Theatre are excited to share their relevant and gritty take on Shakespeare’s tragedy with Edinburgh audiences. 

The production has been edited to a taut 70 minutes - this is Shakespeare at its best.

This story will be told by six tenacious women.  In a genre that is generally dominated by male characters, it’s a welcome and glorious surprise to see strong females taking centre stage, speaking mighty verses about freedom, leadership and destiny.  

Julius Caesar has never been more relevant.  Director Fleur Kilpatrick says “With each news bulletin this play feels newer and more connected to the world around us”. As current political figures are either heroes or traitors, there has never been a more apt time for Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar to be played out. 

The company
Essential Theatre are a proud independent Australian theatre company with over 18 years experience. They have established themselves as a leading national touring company known for its creative and dynamic presentations of Shakespeare.  They are beyond thrilled to be making their debut in Edinburgh this year.

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