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Julius Caesar and the present moment

Updated Friday 24th August 2012

In this exclusive video, the director and producer of the BBC film version of the RSC's production of Julius Caesar talks about how it's relevant to the here and now 

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Julius Caesar and the present moment

[scenes of rehearsal and preparation for the ‘parlay’ scene]

Gregory Doran (director):

Ah Nick… all that’s fine…

Kristian Dench (first assistant):

Gentlemen, just hold positions for a moment, please. Guys, please, just for a moment, just hold those positions, thank you… And, action.

[Interview]

Gregory Doran (Director):

One of the glorious things about Shakespeare is that he acts like a magnet that attracts all the iron fillings of what’s going on in the rest of the world, so the plays always seem relevant, and then you do them maybe a decade later and they are relevant for a whole series of different reasons. And of course, we are applying that resonance to them. But they have, I suppose, an application to the universal, by being specific, that somehow makes them constantly reinterpretable.

[rehearsal of the ‘parlay’ scene]

Octavius:

‘Look, I draw a sword against conspirators.

When think you this sword goes up again?

Never. Till Caesar’s three and thirty wounds

Be well avenged, or till another Caesar...’

[Interview]

Gregory Doran (Director):

When we were working through developing the play last year, the Arab Spring was unfolding in North Africa and the question really was not, When they were going to assassinate Gaddafi. How are they going to get rid of Gaddafi? The big question was, What replaces Gaddafi. That really is the urgent question in Julius Caesar, therefore the second half should be the bit that you are waiting to find out about. So that was a primary instinct in trying to shape the play.

[rehearsal of the ‘parlay’ scene]

Octavius:

Defiance traitors hurl we in your teeth.

If you dare fight today, come to the field.

If not, when you have stomachs.’

[Interview]

John Wyver (producer):

It’s not highly specific, so although there are unquestionably echoes of the last eighteen months of events in the Arab Spring across Africa, there are echoes of that in the action of the play, in elements of the setting, perhaps in elements of the way in which we filmed this. This isn’t the Arab Spring Julius Caesar. That’s a background, a set of resonances, a set of things that perhaps you’ll be reminded about, but it doesn’t have a very literal or direct relationship to that. I think we all feel that it will be richer and more stimulating for that to be A context, but not to be the defining way in which people approach this production.

[extract]

First citizen:

What is your name?

Second citizen:

Whither are you going?

Third citizen:

Where do you dwell?

Fourth citizen:

Are you a married man or a batchelor?

Second citizen:

Answer every man directly

First citizen:

 

 

 

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