Hello again from your pal Louis Butelli. Our run of Julius Caesar at Folger Theatre came to an end this past Sunday, and I wanted to write one last post to thank you for coming to see us, if you did, and to thank you for reading, if you are.
In all, we played 49 performances, which includes a week of previews, three student matinees, several talk-back sessions, a performance with open-captioning, all preceded by stretching, vocal warm ups, and fight calls.
Our stage manager Che Wernsman called several thousand light and sound cues, our ASMs Beth Ribar and Rachel Spears gave the actors standing backstage countless cues to “standby” and to “go” for entrances, our wardrobe supervisor Edwin Schiff replaced buttons, mended frayed fabric, and “de-fogged” the inside of numerous gas masks.
Our sound technician Brandon Roe religiously tested each speaker and mic dozens of times, and our electrician Amanda Kircher presided over enough stage fog to obscure a mid-sized shopping mall for several weeks.
We do all of this, kind reader, in service of the members of our audience. By the close of the run, Tim Guillot and his team in the box office and the front of house welcomed nearly 13,000 souls to the Folger to experience Julius Caesar.
It is our honor and pleasure to take the work we’ve done in telling this 415-year-old (or thereabouts) story, and share it with a live audience. We live in a rapidly accelerating age – so much of our lives in 2014 America revolve around screens that we attend to in isolation. What the theater does, better than any other art form, is bring people together and share stories, feelings and ideas under the same roof with the artists, in real time. Togetherness, it seems to us, is the whole point.
To go one small step further, presenting plays by William Shakespeare in the 21st century does several fascinating things simultaneously. First, it connects us to our past; we see where we’ve progressed culturally, societally, psychologically and linguistically – and where we haven’t.
Second, it awakes us to our present; is the language complex? Certainly! Is that challenging? Of course! Can we rise to the challenge in a time of foreshortened attention spans? Personally, I believe we can, and I believe the 13,000 people who joined us at the theater left with things to consider about the way we live now.
Third, it forces us to question the future. The current moment is one of increasing economic disparity, an increasingly polarized political climate and ongoing wars. Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar is an incredibly well-targeted piece for asking our future selves: are we doomed to repeat the mistakes of the past?
Or, as Cassius says in the play, “how many ages hence shall this our lofty scene be acted over in states unborn and accents yet unknown?”
As always, when the end of a show comes near, the ensemble is left with a bittersweet feeling. We feel lucky to have come together as artists and people, we feel honored to have played for our amazing audiences, we feel proud of and exhausted by the work, and we feel sad that it all must come to an end.
Still, that is the very nature of the theater. It can only ever be ephemeral – living and breathing on stage one night, lost forever to history the next.
Thank you for allowing me to be your intrepid blogger for Julius Caesar. This isn’t the last you’ll hear from me, but that’s matter for another post.
In the meantime, I’ll bid you adieu with a few more of Cassius’ words:
Forever and forever, farewell Brutus. / If we do meet again, we’ll smile indeed, / If not, ‘tis true, this parting was well made.
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