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Last weekend, I saw Julius Caesar performed by the Bell Shakespeare Company at the Opera House. It's nearly my favourite Shakespeare play, after King Lear, and I've been hanging out for ages for the chance to see it on stage.

Anyway, this was a fascinating production for a couple of reasons:

(1) It's a modern adaptation, with everyone in suits instead of togas, bringing the story from Ancient Rome to contemporary politics. All the ads show a bespectacled man in a suit next to a woman throwing her head back laughing, which has resonances with certain recent events in Australian politics.

(2) Cassius, leader of the conspirators, is recast as a woman. (Thus explaining the ads.) In the program book, the actress says that she had always thought of Julius Caesar as "that play about war and men and togas and speeches", but when she was asked not only to play Cassius but to help adapt the text for this production, she was tantalised and terrified all at once. Anyway, she was awesome and it worked really well. If everyone's running around in togas, then a woman in the senate might strike an odd note, but if everyone's in suits, then why the hell not?

(3) It's a touring production, which means a cut-down version of the cast, and a cut-down version of the play. The forty roles are combined into ten players, and the big battles in the later acts are compressed and summarised. But all the drama and emotion and conflict are still there. And the speeches. It really is a lot about the speeches.

Despite the impression from the ads, Caesar was actually played more like an aging mafia don, in mannerism and accent, and Cassius was a lethal petite blonde in a suit, with lots of fire and intensity. Brutus was pretty good too, and there was this interesting tension between him and Cassius, which I don't know if it was entirely because Cassius was a woman.

Now, I'm a Mark Antony girl, even though I know Brutus is supposed to be the hero of the story. (I have a thing for loyalty, so I'm all for the guy who avenges his fallen friend, even if he sets Rome to burning, as opposed to the guy who stabs his friend in the back, even if he did it for honour.) So I was pleased to see Mark Antony played well. His broad (almost strine) accent took a while to get used to, but it did fit his persona of "a plain blunt man". And he nailed the "dogs of war" speech. Brutus did manage to blow me away with his "not that I loved Caesar less, but that I loved Rome more" speech to the crowd. A shame for him that Mark Antony also blew the crowd away with his "they are all, all honourable men" speech.

Interesting parallels: Caesar tells Antony that he doesn't trust Cassius, and Antony tells him he has nothing to worry about. Cassius tells Brutus that she doesn't trust Antony, and Brutus overrules her concerns. People! When someone tells you that someone else will be trouble, you will probably regret not listening to them.

Interesting contrasts: Octavius was also played by a woman, but the character remained a man, unlike Cassius, who was actually genderswapped.

Interesting casting: Cinna the poet was played by the same actor who played Cinna the conspirator. So when he delivers that line to the rioters ("I am Cinna the poet, I am not Cinna the conspirator!"), there's a moment of whoa, surreal.

Interesting quotes: Cassius, Act 3, Scene 1: "How many ages hence shall this our lofty scene be acted over in states unborn and accents yet unknown?" Oh, Will, you sure love your meta, don't you?

Men At Arms

Jul. 8th, 2007 11:20 pm
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Saw the stage adaptation of Terry Pratchett's Men At Arms last night at the Seymour Centre. His books make great plays, and this one was no exception. If you're not familiar with it, Men At Arms is "a Discworld detective story about a gun, monarchy, racial tension and class struggle in a thrilling blend of comedy, fantasy and social commentary." If you live in Sydney and you're a Pratchett fan, I'd highly recommend seeing this production. It's worth it for Gaspode alone. But you'll have to be quick because it only runs for one more week.
meteordust: (Default)
Pratchett fans who live in Sydney might be interested in checking this out:

"Thee More Pork Players's much awaited follow up production to our 2003 production of Guards! Guards! has arrived! Wyrd Sisters will be staged at the Fig Tree Theatre at UNSW from Tuesday December 7th to Saturday December 11th, 2004 at 8pm, with a matinee performance Saturday December 11th at 2pm. Tickets will be $15/$10."

More details - and an online booking facility - on the official website.

I saw the Guards! Guards! production last year - it was pretty good. Will be checking this one out too.
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It feels more than a little weird, after these weeks of constant pressure, to wake up and not have a word count hanging over you. It's been my primary focus for an entire month, and I feel a little unbalanced now that it's gone. I do want to get back into my other projects, which have been sorely neglected. For one thing, I'd like to finish the next part of Ties of Blood before the end of the year.

So, why am I still up at this hour, now that NaNo is over? Heh heh. We'll get to that.

What I've been up to lately )

Day 24

Nov. 25th, 2003 01:34 am
meteordust: (nanowrimo 2003)
Word count:

Today - 2492
Total - 35169

If you're a Terry Pratchett fan and you live in Sydney, then this week is your chance to catch a live performance of the play Guards! Guards!. All the details are on the website.

I'll definitely be going - the only other Pratchett play I've ever seen is Mort. It's frustrating when I see a Pratchett play being advertised, and it turns out to be in Canberra or Melbourne or even London. Heh, not this time.


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