This summer, for the first time in Repercussion Theatre’s 28-year history, it is presenting William Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar, directed by Amanda Kellock, (Artistic Director), for its annual Shakespeare-in-the-Park (SITP) tour. From July 7 to August 3, Montreal and surrounding area residents can venture out to local parks with blankets, picnic baskets and kids to watch the centuries’ old tale presented with the unique spin of an all-female cast.
It all gets underway at Rembrandt Park in Côte Saint-Luc`s District 2 with a preview on Wednesday, July 6 (7 p.m.). It returns to the same place on Wednesday, July 27 (7 pm). Our largest park, Pierre Elliott Trudeau, is closed for renovations which explains the venue switch. For the complete schedule click here.
(Seated, foreground) T. Brown (Seated, mid-ground, left to right) G. Jain; M. Cummings; L. Parker; D. Kilkenny-Mondoux; W. Setshwaelo; D. MacKay; D. Jafarzadeh (Standing, background, left to right) C. Varvaro; S. Megarry; D. Aziz; H. Gauthier-Frankel ©Studio Baron Photo, photos by Valerie Baron
Why this play and why all women? The excellent press release sent to me by Repercussion gives us all of the details as Kellock explains, “Our mandate is to produce Shakespeare, so we are bound to the material; I think it’s our job to engage with Shakespeare, to discover fresh, engaging approaches to these well-known texts. In Montreal we have so many diverse and incredibly talented female stage actors who are woefully underused so here’s a perfect vehicle to try something different and showcase these versatile artists.”
Parents with young children may think Julius Caesar too dense for family entertainment but Kellock wholeheartedly disagrees. “Whenever you ask children about a favourite story, they inevitably describe big adventures and monumental battles to defend someone or something of worth; that is the essence of Julius Caesar. Both sides of the battle believe in the Republic, its goodness and value to all of Rome’s citizens. Caesar has been an asset to Rome to this point in the story but now, the possibility of his becoming supreme ruler creates dissent among his followers. One side doubts that he can be king and remain true to the Republic; the other side is faithfully loyal to him, believing he is capable of putting Rome’s interests ahead of his own.”
The endurance of Shakespeare’s plays allows contemporary theatre practitioners to continually explore today’s social, political and personal issues through so-called ‘old’ words. Casting all the roles with women added another layer to the play’s themes of manhood and honour when seen through a female lens. “I like theatre as a tool to ask questions rather than provide answers. With this play, I was fascinated by the political themes but less impressed with how the genderpolitics were represented. I’m excited for our audiences to discover new significance and depth in these words when women speak them,” said Kellock.
This summer will be the testing ground for an exciting new pilot project. This year, all Montrealers will be able to enjoy every nuance of the Bard’s English thanks to a brilliant innovation through a collaboration with Plank Design. For the first time ever, Francophone citizens will be able to follow the text by reading French sub-titles on their own smart phones … pocket Shakespeare! Repercussion Theatre was chosen from a group of non-profits who answered Plank Design’s appeal to local organizations for challenging, hi-tech problems for Plank to solve, and solve it they did with a veritable game changer for SITP audience attendance.
A scene from a 2015 production.
Twelve of Montreal’s finest actors fill the iconic Roman roles yet for several it is their first SITP tour. Leni Parker, as Caesar, and Danette MacKay, as the devious Cassius, make inaugural appearances. Tamara Brown, Holly Gauthier-Frankel and Warona Setshwaelo also make their debuts in multiple roles on the travelling stage. Catherine Varvaro, equally new to the SITP experience, not only plays the Soothsayer but is the composer and will be performing live percussion throughout. SITP alumnae include Deena Aziz, Olivia in the 1994 production of Twelfth Night, plays the misled Brutus. Gitanjali Jain (Mark Antony) and Darragh Kilkenny Mondoux, are also back for a second consecutive year, having performed in last year’s Twelfth Night. Samantha Megarry, last seen in the 2011 production of Macbeth, and Miriam Cummings, from 2012’s The Taming of the Shrew, also return. Donnub Jafarzadeh, a Concordia grad relatively new on the local scene, rounds out the illustrious cast.
RAIN CANCELLATIONS: Call 514-931-2644, visit the web site at www.repercussiontheatre.com, or follow Repercussion Theatre on Twitter (@RepercussionMtl) or Facebook for rain updates. If some shows are cancelled due to inclement weather, there will be a make-up performance on August 4 at a location to be announced.
The mission of Repercussion Theatre is to deliver professional, classically based, visually dynamic theatre that is accessible to all, regardless of income, culture, language, age or education. Repercussion brings the performing arts to people in their communities, reaching new audiences and instilling in them, a lifelong love of theatre. For more information, visit the