It wasn’t until 44 years after Shakespeare’s death, in 1616, that a woman first appeared in one of his plays, Othello. Before that, women weren’t legally allowed onstage. Fast-forward four centuries later: One of his classics is now getting a feminist makeover.
The Nevada Conservatory Theater will debut its all-female adaptation of Julius Caesar on March 9 in UNLV’s Black Box Theater.
Despite the cast being male-free, don’t expect Julius and Brutus to be renamed Julia or Bretta.
Director Beth Lopes says that the play’s 10 actors will retain all of the characters’ original pronouns in order to explore the idea of gender fluidity, as well as providing a feminine introspection of the play’s themes.
“When I knew it was all-female, the thing I was most interested in is, can we do a production of this play with all female actors where gender disappears?” Lopes says. “Where it’s about people, and thoughts and ideas, and argument, and relationships — and the fact that they happen to be all female is not on the forefront our brains.”
Lopes is a freelance theater director and teacher from Los Angeles who specializes in making classic plays accessible to modern audiences, and has directed other Shakespeare works, including Much Ado About Nothing and Hamlet.
Audiences will likely recognize some contemporary touches in the play; though it follows most of the original plot, the play will take place outside the realm of realism, unlimited by a specific time or place.
Although Shakespeare’s plays originally didn’t feature women, the director believes the playwright would have been thrilled to see his plays given a feminine touch.
“I have to think if that he would be super excited about all of the adaptations that have occurred of his plays,” Lopes says. It helps keep them newly relevant to changing audiences. “If we're just going do them the same ways over and over again, then let's just put them in a museum.”
Julius Caesar, Nevada Conservatory Theatre, March 9-25, 7:30p and 2p, $16.50, Alta Ham Black Box Theatre, unlv.edu/calendar