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Julius Caesar talking Trini
The works of Shakespeare have been reworked and reimagined many times to make them more relevant or appealing to readers and they are taught in schools the world over. The current CXC CSEC text, Julius Caesar, is being presented to students in an abridged theatrical version with a Trini twist by recently formed local production company Tout Moun Productions.
Artistic director and Fulbright scholar Michailean Taylor said the creative take on the play is to make it interactive and engaging so the students will get a more holistic understanding of the play.
He said their aim is to present the play in a way that does away with the Shakespearean stereotype of being boring and “airy-fairy.”
To this end, he is pushing the actors to “find out who these Roman men are and equate them to Trinidadian men, so play your Trinidadian elements in it. There’s a particular pentameter Shakespeare uses that causes us to speak Shakespeare in a particular poetic kind of way, so I’m challenging them to cancel the pentameter and say it the way a Trinidadian would say it.”
The play is directed by Taylor and Yale Fellow Marcus Waldron, and stars Che Rodriguez as Marcus Brutus, Errol “Blood” Roberts as Julius Caesar and Renaldo “Red” Frederick as Cassius, among other actors.
Taylor said since the play is abridged, some of the scenes have been replaced with local songs, including calypso, extempo and speech band, so that the plot remains whole. However, since the students have to write about the play for CSEC and understand the plot and various themes, the language remains the same.
The action has tinges of the Trinidadian penchant for picong and gossip, with the comedic flair of the actors being tempered by the seriousness of the text. The local music encourages the audience to join in, and the set changes are incorporated as part of the action of the play.
There will also be a theatre-in-education aspect to the production as the students will be interacting with the actors.
“Before the play starts, we have someone who reads the house announcements and gives the setup for the audience and tells them there are going to be times where people come at you, engage you, ask you to say a line, ask you to be involved in crowd scenes.
“Julius Caesar has a long list of characters and out of those we only have seven actors playing eight characters, and so we are trying to let the students take on the roles in some of the characters, led by some of the actors themselves.”
Taylor said there has been a quick and positive response from schools that want their students to participate, particularly as this is the text being studied for examinations.
He said the objective of Tout Moun is to “examine Western aspects of art, including theatre, and find ourselves in it, so we hope to present things that are not known to Trinidad in a manner where we could relate and understand that this could also speak to us and the greater society. What we’re trying to do is broaden the realm of theatre within Trinidad by presenting things that are foreign in a manner that people could appreciate.”
One show of Julius Caesar will be open to members of the public, at the El Dorado Community Centre on May 4. Tickets cost $50.
• More info: Email: [email protected], call 498-8730, or find Tout Moun Productions on Facebook.
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