Heather Morrison (left) and Jonelle Gunderson duke it out in J. Caesar. (Britainy Zapshalla)
Tensions are high as two actors try to kick, slap and throw eachother into submission. It’s a scene that’s not usually dominated by women but on stage at Shakespeare on the Saskatchewan it’s much more than a “girl fight”.
Welcome to J. Caesar, a reimagining of Shakespeare’s classic tragedy Julius Caesar. Under the direction of Anita Smith the story has been place in the future. It’s 2416 and society has collapsed. All that’s left are a small band of women dedicated to protecting their people and the precious water supply.
While this performance takes on a different setting and twists traditional casting, the players say it stays true to Shakespeare’s original work. “Women bring a different point of view to the story,” says Andrea Runge, who plays Brutus.
Andrea Runge plays Brutus in J. Caesar. (Shakespeare on the Saskatchewan)
“In the traditional Roman time, it’s easy to feel detatched. With this telling, there’s something that feels really personal about the betrayal between women.”
“…there’s something that feels really personal about the betrayal between women.”
Forget about the traditional Shakespearian roles of ingenue, love interest or even wicked crone, Runge say it’s exciting to own the stage in this production. “We’ve been working on the fight choreography since day one,” she explains. “This play is really empowering both physically but also in being able to speak a role that’s typically played by a man.”
The comedy ‘A Midsummer Night’s Dream’ is just one of three shows you can see at Shakespeare on the Saskatchewan July 8 – August 21.
As with all the actors in the company, Runge is doing double duty. Along with her role in J. Caesar, she also has a few roles in the lighter comedy A Midsummer Night’s Dream. “It’s wonderful to be back home to perform,” says the actress. “I missed the prairies and this production was the perfect way to spend my summer!”
A third play is also being performed featuring the men of Shakespeare on the Saskatchewan. This is a roving production of The Tempest that takes both the cast and audience on a walk down the banks of the South Saskatchewan River. I’ll have more on that show next week, stay tuned!
Shakespeare on the Saskatchewan runs July 6 – August 21, 2016. For full details click here.