caesar play la boite theatre
Photo: La Boite Theatre.

Caesar: Revisiting a classic with a very fresh and very queer approach

Caesar, the second performance piece in Brisbane’s La Boite Theatre’s Act 2 2021, is the reimagining by five leading female and nonbinary playwrights of Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar

The result is a novel performance that sees a troop of actors dealing with the work Caesar.

Four performers present as Shakespearean actors both in and out of character, with the fifth playing the stage manager – Billie Fogarty in their first professional mainstage role. 

I had the privilege of meeting Billie and the play’s producer, Sanja Simić, at a preview of La Boite’s Act 2.

Billie’s enthusiasm and obvious joy in taking on a challenging role gave me strong hopes for a vigorous and fresh performance. 

Sanja shared a very clear distillation of the process, which included several important points of focus. 

She plans for this work to make clear that Shakespeare’s play, while a good yarn that has stood on its storytelling merits, is hypermasculine and inextricably bound to that which is acceptable only in a stridently patriarchal world. 

Sanja has a strong commitment to diverse gender inclusivity in both process and content.

She understands that this is a multilayered project that will challenge audiences, and it will be vital to engage each audience and hold the connection to them through strong characterisations and the use of humour.

In a subsequent interview, it became abundantly clear that the process of working on such a complex collaboration remains (six weeks out from opening) quite fluid, hence the absence of any content detail at our first meeting. 

Five different queer writers providing new material that derives from interaction with one of Shakespeare’s most patriarchal plays. 

A production team dominated by queer professionals and a new face to mainstage performance who is nonbinary and full of elvish mischief. 

I strongly recommend this exploration.

When I try to get my head around this production, I think of a small box that, when opened, is found to contain several babushka nesting dolls. 

Opening these in various order and placing them on a table gives an almost infinite range to the resultant tapestry or form and colour. 

I cannot wait to see how the babushkas fall.

Caesar will play at La Boite Theatre from 17 July to 7 August 2021, and tickets are available now.

Frances was a guest of La Boite for this story.

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