Togas are out, and metal detectors are in for East Central University's first theatre production of the year, "Julius Caesar," which will be presented at 8 p.m. Wednesday through Saturday [OCT. 3-6] in the Dorothy Summers Theatre.
Director Bret Jones said he re-read Shakespeare's classic play recently and was struck by the similarities between the politics of ancient Rome and today. He decided to do the play at ECU but set it in modern times, with senators wearing business suits and passing through a metal detector before going into the capitol.
"Politically, this is one of those plays that is universal," Jones said. "It transcends time. It has the same kind of posturing that we see today."
Theatre doors will open at 7:30 each night. Tickets are $5 for adults and $3 for non-ECU students and senior adults. ECU faculty, staff and students will be admitted free with valid ECU ID's. For reservations call 580-310-5756 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
At odds in the play are peoples' emotions and such values as jealousy, betrayal, duty and revenge.
Julius Caesar had become extremely powerful, based on his conquests, and some worried that he would become a king, although Rome was a republic.
"Brutus, who was a senator and friend of Caesar's, saw the possibility that Caesar was going to take absolute control over the government," Jones said.
A group of senators decides the only way to preserve their form of government is to kill Caesar, on the Ides of March, or March 15. Brutus is approached and asked to join the plot.
"This play really ought to be called 'Brutus,'" Jones said, "because his decision is at the core of the play - whether he will take up arms against the friend he loves or take the chance Caesar is going to take control of the government."
Jones said the play shows how politics influences mob behavior and ultimately destroys Brutus.
"Antony's 'Friends, Romans, countrymen' speech shifts the mob's attitude from one side to another in just a matter of minutes," he said. Antony will give his famous speech with the aid of microphones, just as politicians do today.
"I am not politically motivated," Jones added. "I don't like politics. But with the rhetoric and ya-ya going back and forth, I thought this play reflects what we see in modern times.
"We want it to be reflective of the political arena today as we understand it," he added.
Jones, an award-winning playwright himself, also has streamlined the play, cast women as some of the senators and eliminated the battles to focus on politics.
"Traditionalists will say, 'I can't believe you did that to Shakespeare. The actors should be in togas,'" Jones said. "I don't feel Shakespeare has to be that way. I think you can move things around and it works. We've been amazed at how well it works."
While traditionalists may scoff, he said, "others may think, 'Wow. That's really kind of cool.'"
Brutus will be played by senior Chris Hicks of Allen. Senior Sam Caton of Latta will play
Antony, the heroic leader of the forces that defeat Brutus. Cassius, who tries to convince Brutus that killing Caesar would be justified, will be portrayed by Ruth Richardson, a senior from Stratford.
Other cast members are Kelli Lowe, Holdenville senior, as Calpurnia, Caesar's wife; Catie Caton, Sapulpa senior, as Portia, Brutus' wife; Marcus Sieczkowski, McAlester freshman, as Casca, one of Caesar's men; Shawn Taylor, Ada senior, as Cinna, one of the conspirators Katie Wilson, Mustang sophomore, as Lucius, Brutus' servant; and Kassie Ingle, Calvin senior, as Decius, who convinces Caesar to go to the capitol on the Ides of March.
Jones will portray Julius Caesar.