Pan African production of Julius Caesar

ROYAL SHAKESPEARE COMPANY'S PAN AFRICAN PRODUCTION OF JULIUS CAESAR FOR THE WORLD SHAKESPEARE FESTIVAL

CASTING AND UK TOUR DATES ANNOUNCED

Julius Caesar
By William Shakespeare
Directed by Gregory Doran
Royal Shakespeare Theatre
28 May – 7 July 2012

Press Night: Wednesday 6 June, 7pm
Tickets: 0844 800 1110 or www.rsc.org.uk
(see below for Newcastle, London and Tour dates)

The RSC announced today that its new production of Shakespeare's Julius Caesar will tour the UK after performing in Stratford upon Avon, Newcastle Theatre Royal and the Noel Coward Theatre in London's West End as part of the World Shakespeare Festival (see dates below).

Directed by RSC Chief Associate Director Gregory Doran, in what will be his debut production on the transformed RST stage, the show is cast with black British actors.

The production will be unique in being filmed on location in London during the initial rehearsal period, with additional recording during two Stratford performances. The completed film will be broadcast on BBC Four as part of the BBC's Shakespeare season for the Cultural Olympiad.

The film company Illuminations has previously worked with Greg and the RSC to film his productions of Macbeth with Antony Sher and Harriet Walter (for Channel 4, 2000) and Hamlet with David Tennant and Patrick Stewart (BBC Two, 2009).

After performances in Stratford and Newcastle and London, the production will embark on a five week tour to Aylesbury, Bradford, Salford, Norwich and Cardiff during autumn 2012.

Gregory said of his African concept for the production:

“One of the inspirations behind setting Julius Caesar in Africa was discovering the Robben Island Shakespeare and that Nelson Mandela had chosen to autograph lines from the play, asserting that it spoke in a particular way to his continent. It also struck me that there must be some reason why Julius Nyerere, the first president of Tanzania, had translated the play into Swahili. The actor John Kani put it most succinctly when he told me that Julius Caesar was quite simply “Shakespeare's Africa play”.

“If you consider the history of the Continent since Independence over the last fifty or sixty years, it has witnessed a series of freedom fighters turned democratically elected Presidents, turned despotic rulers, who have pulled all the power to themselves in one party States. The fear of that tyranny has led to multiple military coups, assassinations and civil wars which continue to ravage the continent. Caesar could be Amin or Bokassa, Mobutu or Mugabe.

“My first instinct was to set the play in a non-specific setting sometime in the last half century, definitely sub-Saharan - but of course History overtakes us. One of the urgent questions arising from the Arab Spring last year, was not would they get rid of Gaddafi, but what would replace him. This makes the second half of Julius Caesar, instead of frequently feeling a bit on an anticlimax, suddenly seem urgent and thrilling. Or that is what I hope will happen”.

The cast is headed by Jeffery Kissoon as Julius Caesar, Paterson Joseph as Brutus and Cyril Nri as Cassius; with Ray Fearon as Mark Antony and Adjoa Andoh as Portia.

The cast also includes:
Segun Akingbola (Trebonius), Mark Ebulue (Artemidorus), Ricky Fearon (Cicero/Lucilius), Andrew French (Decius Brutus), Marcus Griffiths (Marullus/Pindarus), Ivanno Jeremiah (Octavius), Samantha Lawson (Caesar's servant), Simon Manyonda (Lucius), Joseph Mydell (Casca), Ann Ogbomo (Calpurnia), Theo Ogundipe (Soothsayer), Jude Owusu (Cinna the Poet), Mark Theodore (Metellus Cimber/Messala), Ewart James Walters (Caius Ligarus/Lepidus), Chinna Wodu as Cinna the Conspirator.

The production is designed by Michael Vale, with music composed by Akintayo Akinbode. Lighting is by Vince Herbert, and sound by Jonathan Ruddick. The Associate Director is Gbolahan Obisesan.

For further information please contact philippa.harland@rsc.org.uk or nada.zakula@rsc.org.uk

For press tickets for the premiere in Stratford upon Avon, please contact dean.asker@rsc.org.uk

Public booking for Julius Caesar (and Much Ado About Nothing) at the Noel Coward theatre, London opens on Monday 26 March.

Marketing images for the show which include lead cast members will be available from www.epo-online.com shortly.

Follow the RSC Press Office on www.twitter.com/RSCPress
Twitter hashtag: #RSCCaesar

Issue Date: 28 February 2012

Notes to Editors

• Linked to this production - the RSC has joined forces with project sponsor CISCO, with the support of Ravensbourne college and JANET (one of the world's leading research and education networks) to simultaneously bring a specially commissioned World Shakespeare Festival production of Tim Crouch's one man play I, Cinna (The Poet) to up to 3,000 secondary schools in the UK by streaming a filmed version to them on 2 July 2012 (more information http://www.rsc.org.uk/about-us/updates/i-cinna-the-poet.aspx)

The World Shakespeare Festival (WSF) is a celebration of Shakespeare as the world's playwright, produced by the Royal Shakespeare Company, in an unprecedented collaboration with leading UK and international arts organizations, and with Globe to Globe, a major international programme produced by Shakespeare's Globe. It runs from 12 April to November and forms part of London 2012 Festival which is the culmination of the Cultural Olympiad, bringing leading artists from all over the world together in a UK-wide festival in the summer of 2012.
For further details http://www.worldshakespearefestival.org.uk
The World Shakespeare Festival is supported by BP, as Founding Presenting Partner, and by the National Lottery through the Olympic Lottery Distributor and Arts Council England.
Social media links at www.facebook.com/worldshakespearefestival and www.twitter.com/wsf2012

• The production of Julius Caesar in London is supported by BP

• The RSC Ensemble is generously supported by The Gatsby Charitable Foundation and The Kovner Foundation

• Illuminations is an independent production company that specialises in arts and performance media. In addition to Gregory Doran's films of Macbeth and Hamlet, Illuminations produced the 2010 BBC Four film of Macbeth directed by Rupert Goold and starring Patrick Stewart and Kate Fleetwood. Illuminations has recently completed a television version of Simon Callow's one-man show Being Shakespeare for Sky Arts and is developing an iPad app of Shakespeare's Sonnets.

Julius Caesar performance dates

Royal Shakespeare Theatre, Stratford upon Avon 28 May – 7 July

Theatre Royal, Newcastle upon Tyne 16 – 28 July

Noel Coward Theatre, London 8 August – 15 September

Tour dates:

Aylesbury Waterside Theatre 19 – 22 September

Bradford Alhambra Theatre 25 – 29 September

The Lowry, Salford 2 - 6 October

Norwich Theatre Royal 16 – 20 October

New Theatre, Cardiff 23 – 27 October

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