Rochester Community Players' JULIUS CAESAR Opens Tonight

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Rochester Community Players' JULIUS CAESAR Opens Tonight

The Rochester Community Players opens its 90th season with a production of Shakespeare's roiling political tragedy, Julius Caesar. The play tells the tale of the conspiracy to assassinate "the foremost man of all this world", the famous funeral oration of Mark Antony, which turned the fickled mob against the murderers, and the downfall of the conspirators Brutus and Cassius.

The production will be presented eleven times at MuCCC Theater, 142 Atlantic Avenue, Rochester (three blocks east of University Avenue). Performance dates are:

Friday & Saturday, October 25 & 26 at 7:30 PM
Sunday October 27 at 2:00 PM
Thursday, Friday and Saturday, October 31 thru November 2 at 7:30
Sunday November 3 at 2:00
Wednesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday, November 6 thru 9 at 7:30 PM.

Ticket prices are $19 general admission, $14 anyone over age 65 and $9 for anyone under age 25. And for the performances October 27, October 31, andNovember 6, tickets for anyone under age 25 are only $5! Tickets are available online at muccc.org or may be purchased at the door.

About the Play: Julius Caesar is Shakespeare's recreation of the plot to assassinate the victorious Roman military leader in 44 BC, the falling out among the conspirators, and their ultimate defeat at the hands of Mark Antony and Octavius Caesar. The conspiracy was hatched by Gaius Cassius, who recruits Marcus Brutus, a patrician of peerless nobility, to be its leader. The plotters feared that Caesar intended to make himself King, ending the four hundred year old Roman Republic, and decided to preemptively kill him. After the murder, Brutus lectures the crowd of citizens on the righteousness of assassination, only to be followed by Mark Antony, a brash licentious lieutenant of Caesar, who sways the mob with powerful rhetoric, demolishing the arguments of the conspirators with faux-flatter ("yet Brutus says Caesar was ambitious, and Brutus is an honorable man"), and naked appeals to avarice. Brutus and Cassius flee from Rome, their armies defeated at Philippi (in modern Macedonia), and each meets his end there.

In composing the play, Shakespeare drew primarily on the works of the Roman historian Plutarch, translated into English by Thomas North in 1579. The play is believed to have been the first Shakespeare play staged at the Globe Theater, in 1600. Shakespeare is faithful to the historical record, as understood in his era, making just a few alterations for dramatic effect. The only known text of Julius Caesar comes from the First Folio of 1623. It is considered a relatively uncorrupted or 'clean' text, as it includes such things as offstage sound effects, which likely came directly from the Globe Theater's own 'prompt book' copy of the play.

About the Director: Peter Scribner is the President of the Rochester Community Players and an attorney in private practice. He started Shakespeare Players as a program of RCP in 1994. This is the first Shakespeare production he has directed, 20 years after founding the Shakespeare Players program. He has been representing RCP at the annual conferences of the Shakespeare Theater Association since 2009, where he has learned from other Shakespeare companies around North America and Europe about the latest trends in Shakespeare production, including the elements of "original practices".

Original practices used in this production: When Shakespeare wrote his plays (1593-1611), the live stage of the era used several techniques that are not commonly used in more modern dramas. These techniques were incorporated by Shakespeare into the structure of his plays, and by using them we can bring out elements of the play that are less emphasized in modern theatrical practices. The phrase 'original practices' is used to describe Shakespeare productions that attempt to recreate the theatrical techniques of the Elizabethan era.

No production can replicate all such practices, although 'OP' plays at Shakespeare's Globe in London and the American Shakespeare Center in Virginia, using original pronunciation and men playing woman characters, come close. We think of 'original practices' as a list of staging techniques, some of which are appropriate for a specific production, depending on the goals of that production and that company. We have incorporate several original practices, or Elizabethan staging techniques, in Julius Caesar that we believe are appropriate for our actors, our audience, our company and our venue (MuCCC.) Our goal is not to create an historical recreation of an Elizabethan but rather to use those techniques that help to bring the play alive.

Our production will be using several Elizabethan staging techniques, including:

No scene changes: The action is non-stop, with no scenery changes, as it was at the Globe Theater in 1600.

Universal lighting: The houselights will remain on, in dim candle-light settings, throughout the production, just like indoor productions four hundred years ago.

Full thrust stage: Seating at MuCCC has been rearranged for this production so that the audience surrounds the acting area on three sides, as was the practice in indoor performances of the Elizabethan and Jacobian. Shakespeare knew that the actors could see the audience, and the audience could see each other, and wrote his plays with this in mind.

Audience contact: Due to the seating and lighting, there was a direct connection between audience and actor far more intimate than in modern drama. Characters often speak directly to the audience, even when addressing each other. This technique creates an intense bond between audience and the play.

Live sound effects: All music and sound effects in the production are live, with no electronic recordings.

Uncut original text: Our text is the Applause First Folio edition of the play (Neil Freeman, editor.) The original unaltered punctuation of the 1623 First Folio, helps modern actors understand the meaning of the text.

Uncut text: The production is virtually uncut, with rapid pacing and an anticipated running time (not including intermission) of 2 1/2 hours, standard for a Shakespeare play ("the two hours traffic of our stage"; Romeo & Juliet prologue.)

Abut the Rochester Community Players: Celebrating its 90th Season, RCP has been continuously operating since 1925. Julius Caesar is RCP's 640th production and our 42nd Shakespeare Players production. RCP operated its own theater, The Playhouse, at Meigs and South Clinton, from 1926 to 1984, and has been staging its productions in a number of venues since then. RCP's Shakespeare Players program was started in 1994 and currently RCP stages four Shakespeare plays a year: a free outdoor Shakespeare at the Highland Park Bowl in July, full length indoor productions in Fall and Spring at MuCCC Theater, and a Shakespeare for Young Audiences modified production in February. RCP also stages plays of Irish playwrights in its Irish Players program, which are presented locally and then taken on the road to the Acting Irish InterNational Theatre Festival.

For the balance of the 2013-14 season, RCP is presenting our Shakespeare for Young Audiences production of The Tale of Marina (a modified version of Pericles) in February at the Dazzle Theater, our Irish Players production of Shining City by Connor McPherson at MuCCC Theater in March, our spring Shakespeare production of The Winter's Tale at MuCCC Theater in April, and A Midsummer Night's Dream at the Highland Park Bowl in July.

Auditions for The Tale of Marina are November 11 and 12 at 7 PM at the Dazzle Theater, 110 Webster Avenue. Auditions for Shining City are Dec. 2 and 3at 7 PM at the Ryon Studio, 208 Anderson Alley Building, 250 North Goodman Street.

For more information:
Web site: rochestercommunityplayers.org
email: rochestercommunityplayers@gmail.com
phone: RCP information line 585-261-6461

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