DonMar Warehouse Company production of Julius Caesar

Write a 5-page paper in response to the DonMar production of Julius Caesar on Digital Theatre+.   The paper should be typed, double-spaced, including a cover page with your name, PID# and typed honor pledge, attesting that you have neither given nor received unauthorized help on this paper – (“Honor Pledge: Your Name” will suffice.)  The 5-page minimum does not include the cover page.  You can write as many as 7 pages, but please do not go beyond this limit.

This assignment should be fun for you!  It is to watch (preferably in one sitting) DonMar’s Julius Caesar (filmed live before an audience) and recount your experience, noting the impact of the play on you, and the various ways the director, designers and actors have utilized various production elements to tell the story.  You may write in 1st-person voice, if you wish.

No outside research or Works Cited page is necessary for this paper.  The play is Julius Caesar, by William Shakespeare, whose language, as you know, can be challenging, and you may or may not be familiar with the story.  If you’d like to review the plot of the play before you see it, that may prove useful for you.  But, you don’t have to; the production is good enough and clear enough that you should be able to follow the events of the play simply by watching.  Basically, the play concerns the historical murder and overthrow of the Roman Emperor, Julius Caesar, by a band of conspirators led by Brutus and Cassius.  Were they justified?  Who’s corrupt?  Who’s self-interested?  Is the fault in our “stars” or in our “selves?”  Those are some of the questions of the play.

As we saw with Oedipus the King, a play can be brought to life off the page in different ways.  This one that has a particular point of view and has taken contextual liberties (setting the play in a very particular time and place).  Have the experience watching it, then write about what you experienced, identifying how this play’s approach was effective (or not) for you.

Without spoiling it for you, when you begin watching you’ll notice that the theatre “space” is set up to look like prison, complete with “guards” bringing in the women “prisoners” who will perform the play.  (These are actors, assuming the role of prison inmates and guards.)  What does this “frame” or “concept” contribute to the telling of the story?  At times, the “guards” interrupt the play – why was this done?  What did it add to the experience?  The camera angles reveal the audience watching the performance.  How did this affect you?  Does this help reinforce the “live” capture of the performance?  What did having women play all the parts contribute to your experience?

The performance employs extensive use of production elements (lights, music/sound effects, costumes, objects [called stage properties or “props”] that the actors handle to help tell the story, along with, of course, the text written by Shakespeare.  Share your observations of the relative effectiveness of those elements, citing specific examples from the production.  Of course, you can’t chronicle every production effect, but it should be clear from your paper that you have addressed your personal response to the play and how it was done. Note, for example:  if you only discuss your response to the play (its themes and subject matter) and its effect on you, and don’t address how production elements contributed to that experience, the paper will be deficient.  Similarly, if you only discuss the merits of the production elements and don’t discuss the play’s themes the paper will be deficient.

Obviously, Shakespeare’s language is different from our own, and (as we’ve observed in class) he often writes in verse.  How did the experience of hearing his language spoken in performance contribute to your experience?   Did the richness of the language’s imagery and expression add to the experience, or was the density of the language too difficult to follow?  Even if the language was difficult, did the staging and acting make it clear what was going on?

 Please note:  It is not necessary to (nor should you) provide a plot summary; rather, reference the plot elements as they pertain to particular themes you would like to highlight or discuss.  How is this play (and its political circumstances) relevant to you today?  Do you feel that Shakespeare has a message with how he has shaped the story?  Given the way that events turn out, what do you take away from the play?  Again, we’re looking for how this play and its production made YOU feel and think about things.

Again, submit the paper on Sakai’s Dropbox in Word format.  It will be marked up with comments and returned to you by Sakai Dropbox.

Let me know of any questions.

 Thanks!  Hope you enjoy!