There are certain things that every director and creative team consider when staging Julius Caesar. The following key things will be discussed in every production, but the way you answer these questions below can create incredibly different interpretations of the play.
- How is the political world structured and how has Caesar achieved so much success? How do the public feel about the death and defeat of Caesar’s co-rulers?
- How does the dominance of Caesar threaten the republic and how does that affect Cassius and Brutus? Why do they care?
- How important is the military might of Rome and how does it affect life? When the rebels go into battle, how is their camp different from the Roman camp?
- Why have Brutus and Cassius not talked about their worries in public before? What has stopped them from telling each other that they think Caesar has gained too much power? Are they afraid and, if so, what of?
- How do the soldiers, like Antony and Cassius, interact with each other and their superiors?
- What power do women have in the world of Rome?
- How will you show the differences in the lives and relationships of the two women in the play, Portia and Calphurnia? In what ways do you think they might be treated differently and have different expectations? How do they expect the men around them to interact with them? How do these differences affect the way the women speak to their husbands?
- What do both women risk in standing up to, and confronting, their husbands? Is there a risk?
- What kind of leader is Caesar and how do people respond to him? How can you show this? How does Caesar behave in public and in his private life? Is he different?
- How much does the opinion of the crowd mean to the main characters?
- How do men like Caesar and Brutus behave towards lower-status characters such as servants and messengers? What is the status of the senators in comparison to Caesar and in comparison to the lower-class characters, such as the Soothsayer? How could this be shown on stage?
Within each of these choices, there are lots of key moments and scenes to explore.
Going back through the Productions section of the site and looking at the different performances we’ve had at the RSC, think about those three areas:
- Can you see how each director has presented the political climate of the republic? Why do you think they have made those choices?
- How are both Portia and Calphurnia presented? Is there a sense of their role in the world of Rome and how is this shown? How does each production portray these two women?
- How important and influential is Antony’s role as a supporter of Caesar and a rising threat to Brutus and the Conspirators? What is the power dynamic between Antony and Brutus, and other characters?
To explore a particular production in even more detail, looking at the specific choices and thinking behind them, take a look at the Casebook for the 2012 Julius Caesar production.