Last chance to watch ‘Julius Caesar’ as ‘Julia Caesar’ at BHS
News Review Correspondent
Here’s a twist on a classic: Shakespeare’s “Julius Caesar” done as “Julia Caesar” — same lines, same plot, but with a nearly all-girl cast.
“These ladies deserve to be seen,” said Tristan Kratz, director and drama teacher at Burroughs High School. She gave her cast members a full 18 weeks to prepare for the show, to give them lots of time to think through what life would have been like if Rome had been run by women facing the challenges that Shakespeare’s characters did.
She said that this year far more girls tried out for parts than boys did. By switching the characters’ genders, girls were given a unique opportunity to play parts women seldom get to perform.
“I did not have to turn away a single girl from this play,” said Kratz. “Every single person who tried out was able to get a part in this play. That’s so nice, to be able to do that.”
The lead parts were changed from Cassius to Cassia, played by Katia Mondragon; Brutus to Bruta, played by Aly Browne; Antonio to Antonia, played by Madi Freese and Julius Caesar to Julia Caesar, played by Sierra Rindt.
Kratz said she worked with the cast members to get them thinking: What is Rome? What does it mean to be Roman? What are you willing to fight for, what are you willing to kill for and what are you willing to die for?
“Every single character is driven by these questions,” said Kratz. She told the few boys in the play that they were playing this as if women were the power structure of the world they were creating. What would it be like to live in a society where men and women are truly equal? How would you need to be to stand alongside this powerful, beautiful woman and belong there?
“We ask our military to fight, kill and die for us all the time,” she said. By researching historical events of the time, cast members concentrated on thinking through what would motivate their characters.
“That is truly the deepest tragedy of the play,” said Kratz. “We all care about the same thing, but yet if we can’t agree what that means, we can wind up turning on ourselves and destroying ourselves. Even the conspirators were patriotic.
“The thing I love about the boys in the cast is they have all been really supportive of the girls doing this. We’re on the cusp of something here.”
The production has a cast of 38 students, all of whom invented their own Rome — a world where there had always been equality.
“Their Rome looks a lot like Rivendell, a very nature-based world. They used water and trees as symbols. They decided they were a tribe. It was amazing, the work they did,” she said.
“People who have seen the play felt the girls were believable in their roles. People who read the play were seeing interdynamics between the characters really coming forward. That’s what these girls have been working on, to bring this out.
“It was astonishing to see these kids transform,” she said. “I am so proud of them.”
The play’s last two performances will be Friday, April 18, and Saturday, April 19, at 7 p.m. at the BHS Parker Performing Arts Center. Doors will open at 6:30 p.m. Tickets are on sale at Red Rock Books $10 each or at the box office for $12 each.
Courtesy photoStory First Published: 2014-04-16