RSC on road with shortened version of Julius Caesar

Steve Orme

The Royal Shakespeare Company will take a new, abridged performance of Julius Caesar on the road to schools and theatres in 2018.

The production is aimed at 7- to 13-year-olds and will be directed and edited by Marieke Audsley. It will open at Sydenham Primary School, Leamington Spa on Tuesday 30 January and there will be a performance at the Swan Theatre, Stratford on Friday 2 February. It will then go on a seven-week national tour.

Locations include London, Cornwall, Newcastle-under-Lyme, Bradford, County Durham, Newcastle upon Tyne, Hull, Canterbury, Birmingham and Northampton.

The young audiences will be actively involved in the show before it reaches their school or theatre, effectively going into rehearsals at the same time as the professional cast.

At each venue, students will play citizens of Rome. They will be invited to prepare the opening celebrations for Caesar’s return from war, perhaps writing a song or creating a dance which they will teach the professional actors at the start of each show.

The actors and audience will then perform the opening scene as a united company. Schools will be given an activity pack and will get regular updates from the rehearsal room, allowing students to be fully engaged in the production.

Marieke Audsley said, “school is often the place where we first encounter Shakespeare. The RSC’s education department is committed to making that experience as vivid, accessible and enjoyable as possible and I’m delighted to be working with them by directing this production.

“Giving first-time audiences the chance to work on the play before seeing it live can make a huge difference. They will make props for the production, including a phalera, a big wooden disc representing their school or region, which will be added to the set.

“That feels a brilliant way to learn about the play and about the relevance of theatre in our lives.”

Jacqui O’Hanlon, the RSC’s director of education, added, “listen to a group of ten-year-olds discussing the rights and wrongs of the assassination of Julius Caesar and you find out a lot more than just the story of the play.

“In the hands of young people Shakespeare acquires a new resonance and generates a thirst for learning that can last for life.”

The cast includes Kristin Atherton (Cassius) and Tom Lorcan (Brutus), both currently appearing in the RSC's season of Rome plays at the Barbican, London.

The creative team includes Lisa Connell (fights), Max Dorey (designer), Natasha Harrison (movement) and Yvonne Morley (voice / text).