Do we really govern ourselves through plurality or charisma? Staging Shakespeare's historical drama in the modern setting of a school system may shed some light.
The second and final production this summer of The Drilling Company's Shakespeare in the Park(ing) Lot will be Julius Caesar, directed by Hamilton Clancy (Artistic Director) July 29 to August 14. In an unusual adaptation, Shakespeare's drama about the nature of ambition and politics is set in a contemporary urban school system.
The Drilling Company's two-part Shakespeare in the Park(ing) Lot season also includes "Love's Labours Lost," directed by Kathy Curtis, July 8 to 24. This is the 19th consecutive year for Shakespeare in the Park(ing) Lot, a favorite New York summertime cultural treat that is performed free in a municipal parking lot at the corner of Ludlow and Broome Streets, Manhattan.
In Shakespeare's Julius Caesar, a favorite for all ages, the commoners rejoice over Caesar's triumph over Pompey while the patricians, fearing his irresistable ambition, conspire against him and enlist the noble Brutus to their cause with the manipulation of wily Cassius. After their plot is successful and Caesar is assasinated, Mark Antony incites the rabble against the conspirators with uncanny rhetorical skill, then allies with Octavius Caesar and Lepidus against Brutus and Cassius. Octavius' army prevails and Cassius and Brutus are forced to accept defeat by falling on their own swords.
In this updated version, Shakespeare's text is intact but Caesar becomes an administrative head of a school murdered by staffers and parents intent on preserving the prior system. The roles of Cassius and Mark Antony are cast with women. Director Hamilton Clancy explains, "We're trying to find small worlds where the struggles for power and authority are intense and fought with life and death vigor. We were also searching for worlds in which women share power on an equal level with men. When we look around today at the front pages of our papers, those battles are being fought over the school system and education because in America, our class wars are being fought tooth and nail in the halls of schools all over the city. Along comes one man who says to the Department of Education, give over control of all the schools to me and everything will be better."
The cast features Selene Beretta, Ivory Aquino, Mark Jeter, Brandon Riley, Bill Green, Bobby Plasencia, Brian D. Hills, Leila Okafor, Marianna Caldwell, Joann Sacco, Bill Green, Amanda C. Fuller and Jarad Benn.
Performances are Thursdays through Saturdays at 8:00 PM. Seating is on a first come first served basis, with audience members often arriving as early as 7:00 PM to secure a place. You are encouraged and welcome to bring your own chair. Once seats are gone, blankets are spread out.
For more information, visit shakespeareintheparkinglot.com.
In this updated version, royalty has been traded for celebrity as Shakespeare's original romp in the park outside the castle of Navarre turns into a Celebrity Challenge/Survivor like competition between the royalty of the Rock Music Industry, as "boy band" and "girl band" face off in a variety of media watched challenges. Considerations of love or romance are set aside while the challengers are set to compete. True to Shakespeare's text, the boys didn't know just how attracted to their female competitors they would become, which is a great setting to explore Shakespeare's themes of pride and ambition versus the affairs of the heart.