Julius Caesar has just been published in our MFFEV5 edition (we’re going to run a play-reading of the play on 14th Feb, so we need the script!). So now we’re publishing castings of the plays for different numbers of players – and we’ve created a rather fun “Let’s Play” for 5 players based on Act 3 Scene 2. More on this below.
Editing Julius Caesar has been a revelation. I’ve no memory of seeing an outstanding production of the play, often getting bored with so much violence: the assassination itself; the frequent fallings-on-swords; and the interminable battle scenes. Truth to tell, I’m a little squeamish.
But reading the play is a revelation. Firstly, the language. It seems very different to the language of the other plays. It has a form which reveals elegance of thought and structure. It might be derived from Cicero himself, or Livy’s History of the Roman Empire. And even more to my surprise, I found that the main characters of the play were floating around inside my psyche, and seemed to have had a major influence on my life. Anthony, Brutus, and Cassius are living personalities inside my head who affect my behaviour.
Re-reading the play revived memories of reading it at school, and being rather affected by it. I was a Brutus fan, and rather disapproved of Anthony. We had to learn lines from the play, and nearly everyone in the class chose “Friends, Romans, Countrymen, lend me your ears…”, but I stuck to “Romans, Countrymen, and Lovers, hear me for my cause…”. I disapproved of Anthony’s manipulative ways, and particularly his final sentiment:
“Now let it work. Mischief, thou art afoot,
Take thou what course thou wilt.”
Perhaps that’s why I’ve chosen Act 3 Scene 2 for a “Let’s Play” piece. It moves me still.
All this to say that the play moves me in a reading more than it has in production. I’m rather hoping that our play-reading on 14th Feb will be exceptional – you’ll find out in the play-reading report we’ll publish in the following week.
The play is different from most plays, from a dramaturgical point of view. Usually, we’re struggling to get a casting which doesn’t involve a player having to talk to themselves in different roles. That’s really not too difficult with Julius Caesar. The problem is rather that there are two many characters (well over 50 if I remember rightly). If we try and keep the cast down to eight or so, we end up with some players having eight or more characters to play, and very unlikely to be able to differentiate them. So we’ve produced castings for 10 – 12 players, and think that you should really try to get 12 players together if you want to read the play. You’ll find each of the castings by clicking on the following links:
We’ve also had a bit of fun with Act Three Scene Two. We’ve adopted the sort of approach that I enjoyed making into a workshop with part of the cast of a play, though it should work equally well with students.
We’ve cast A3S2 with one player playing both Brutus and Anthony, so they can experience how each character tries to get the plebs on their side. And the players who are playing Plebs 1 – 4, have the pleasure of trying to make the plebs come together as a ‘crowd animal’. The scene is short enough that with five players, you could play it five times, with each player plaing each character in the scene. You’ll find that casting at:
So that’s another play added to our MFFEV5 edition, and some more castings allowing you to play-read (or play) it in some different ways.
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And finally, don’t forget we review Shakespeare productions you can watch at home on DVD or streaming. See:
Great plays to watch at home.