In the thought-provoking plays of William Shakespeare, male characters dominate roles with their strong and fearless demeanors. The women, however, are more recognizable for their hyper-sexualized looks and menstrual-driven attitudes.
In an attempt to defy these gender roles, senior director Laramie Hearn cast only women for her senior capstone rendition of “Julius Caesar.”
“I really love Shakespeare. When it came time for us to do the capstone prep, ‘Julius Caesar’ seemed like the obvious choice. There is so much opportunity for women to get in these nitty roles that aren’t romantic or sexualized,” said Hearn.
The breakdown includes a cast of 15 actresses, one female director and two female stage directors.
But these women are not playing the stereotypical damsels in distress. Sophomore theatre performance major, Sofia Tosches, plays the vain and powerful role of Julius Caesar.
“Playing my character as a woman shows that women can be just as strong as men and feel fear the same way men do. There’s nothing more badass than women with swords,” said Tosches.
The patriotic and stoic Brutus is played by junior theatre performance major McKenzie Wilkes.
“He’s written to be such a hefty man, but a woman playing him brings more of a feminine and softer side. I don’t see him as a tyrant, I see him as a very dedicated and passionate man who wanted the best for Rome,” said Wilkes.
Hearn encouraged her actresses to play their characters without focusing on gender. She emphasizes a theme throughout her play that anyone has the power to change and fix whatever he or she is afraid of, regardless of gender.
“Shakespeare is normally all about sex and love. But in this play, we think with our heads, not our bodies. When we think, it’s well thought out. We are not thinking from a place of lust, but rather a place of ambition,” said Tosches.
As student director, Hearn’s job includes analyzing the text, coordinating the roles, forming a rehearsal schedule and adding the minor details and adjustments to the play.
“Where I feel most happy is spending time with my actresses and helping them do what they do while encouraging them to do it the way they want to do it,” said Hearn.
Julius Caesar’s set in the Blackbox theatre will provide an intimate and close-knit setting. The cast will use a variety of different levels to create the aura of old Rome which will include a 3-foot-tall platform where Caesar’s throne sits and a balcony.
With over 25 hours spent rehearsing every week, Tosches is excited for the finished production.
“To do a play like Shakespeare on a college campus is extremely difficult because most people think it’s boring. People are always afraid to take that extra step to be creative, but our Julius Caesar shows that we can be entertaining and different,” said Tosches.
Tosches, Wilkes, Hearn and the other cast members encourage students to come see “Julius Caesar” this Thursday, Friday, Saturday or Sunday in the Blackbox theatre.
“College is the only time you’re going to be immersed in culture and art like this, so might as well take advantage of your time here while you can. I don’t think anyone will ever see something like our rendition ever again,” said Wilkes.
This article was written by Taylor Andrews.