Art news

Caesar on the move

When in Africa, do as the Romans did — kill Caesar.

Story by Jaime Lutz - Source: http://www.brooklynpaper.com/
A place like Rome: Actors Cyril Nri, Simon Manyonda, and Paterson Joseph in a scene from the Brooklyn Academy of Music’s staging of Julius Caesar, set in modern-day Africa.  Photo © Kwame Lestrade

A place like Rome: Actors Cyril Nri, Simon Manyonda, and Paterson Joseph in a scene from the Brooklyn Academy of Music’s staging of Julius Caesar, set in modern-day Africa. Photo © Kwame Lestrade

When in Africa, do as the Romans did — kill Caesar.

The Brooklyn Academy of Music’s new production of Shakespeare’s “Julius Caesar” is set not in Rome, but in contemporary Africa, with an all-black cast.

“It’s a very successful reimagining of Shakespeare’s work to another culture,” said Joseph Melillo, BAM’s executive producer, who brought England’s Royal Shakespeare Company to Brooklyn for its second year.

Last year, the company produced “King Lear” and Chekov’s “The Seagull” at BAM’s Fort Greene stage.

Artistic director Gregory Doran set the play in contemporary Africa after hearing that a copy of Shakespeare’s complete works was passed around by prisoners of South Africa’s Robben Island — where Nobel Laureate and former President of South Africa Nelson Mandela was imprisoned for much of his 27 years behind bars.

“We read about it every day, we see it in newspapers, we watch it in television and we know the political power, intrigue, murder — this was all what Shakespeare was writing about,” Melillo said.

“Julius Caesar” at BAM Harvey Theater [651 Fulton Street between Ashland and Rockwell places in Fort Greene, (718) 636–4100, www.bam.org]. April 10–28, tickets start at $25.

 

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