Don’t Miss Brandon J. Dirden, Rocco Sisto, Matthew Amendt, Jordan Barbour and More Slay in TFANA’s THE TRAGEDY OF JULIUS CAESAR

Theatre for a New Audience’s powerful and visually arresting production of William Shakespeare’s The Tragedy of Julius Caesar, helmed by Shana Cooper, ends its run tonight on the Samuel H. Scripps Mainstage at TFANA’s home, Polonsky Shakespeare Center (262 Ashland Place, Brooklyn), with performances at 2pm and 7:30pm. Click here for tickets.

Matthew Amendt and Brandon J. Dirden in JULIUS CAESAR at TFANA. Photo: Henry Grossman

Cooper first staged an earlier incarnation of this production of Julius Caesar that premiered in February 2017 at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival (Bill Rauch, Artistic Director; Cynthia Rider, Executive Director). She reimagines it for TFANA with eight of the original OSF company joining nine new actors.

Citizens at the Feast of Lupercal in THE TRAGEDY OF JULIUS CAESAR. Photo by Henry Grossman

Shakespeare’s primary source for Julius Caesar was Plutarch. Rome, a Republic, is led by a Senate of elected officials. Julius Caesar, a brilliant Roman military leader who commands his own army, conquers Gaul and expands Rome’s domain to Britain. But, when the Senate, fearful of Caesar’s increasingly imperial power, demands he give up his forces and return to Rome, Caesar illegally marches his army across the Rubicon River into Roman territory. Civil war erupts between Julius Caesar and Pompey.

The mortally wounded Julius Caesar (Rocco Sisto) cries “Et tu, Brute!” to Brutus before he dies. Photo by Henry Grossman

When Shakespeare’s play begins, Julius Caesar (Rocco Sisto, three-time OBIE Award-winner) has just defeated and killed Pompey. At the festival of Lupercalia, the citizens celebrate Caesar’s victories and the end of civil war. Caesar is offered a crown which would make him a king with unrivaled political power for life. Cassius (Matthew Amendt), a Senator, persuades the conflicted Brutus (Brandon J. Dirden, OBIE, Theatre World and Audelco Awards) a Senator and close friend of Caesar’s to join a group of Conspirators to kill Caesar to save Rome and its Republican traditions. Despite supernatural omens and warnings by Calpurnia, Caesar’s wife, (Tiffany Rachelle Stewart) and the Soothsayer (Michelle Hurst), Caesar goes to the Senate where the conspirators assassinate him crying Liberty! Freedom! Tyranny is dead!

The company of THE TRAGEDY OF JULIUS CAESAR. Photo by Gerry Goodstein

Shakespeare presents multiple perspectives on whether the Conspirators were right to assassinate Caesar and were patriotic defenders of the Roman Republic and liberty or criminals. The word honor and its variants occur forty-one times in the play and its meaning often changes. Rather than saving the Republic, the assassination plunges Rome into another civil war. Mark Antony (Jordan Barbour), a politician and general loyal to Caesar, joins forces with Octavius Caesar (Benjamin Bonenfant) and Lepidus (Liam Craig) and conquers the Conspirators. Portia, Brutus wife (Merritt Janson) commits suicide and Brutus and Cassius also take their lives. The Roman Republic is replaced by the Roman Empire and power is consolidated under Mark Antony, Octavius Caesar and Lepidus.

The Company of THE TRAGEDY OF JULIUS CAESAR. Photo by Henry Grossman

The cast features Matthew Amendt (Bernhardt/Hamlet on Broadway, TFANA’s Much Ado About Nothing and Tamburlaine the Great) as Cassius; Jordan Barbour (Julius Caesar, Beauty and the Beast, and The Wiz at OSF, New York Theatre Workshop’s Vertebrae) as Mark Antony; Mark Bedard (The Cocoanuts at The Guthrie and OSF, Primary Stages’ Pride & Prejudice; TV: “The Good Fight,” “The Knick”) as Trebonius/Plebian/Ensemble; Benjamin Bonenfant (Julius Caesar, The Odyssey, Great Expectations at OSF) as Octavius Caesar; Liam Craig (The Killer at TFANA, Keen Company’s Later Life, Hudson Valley Shakespeare Festival’s Rip Van Winkle) as Caius Ligarius/Lepidus/Plebeian/Ensemble; Ted Deasy (Julius Caesar, Twelfth Night, The Taming of the Shrew at OSF)as Metellus Cimber; Brandon J. Dirden (Jitney and All The Way on Broadway; TV: “The Americans,” “The Get Down”) as Marcus Brutus; Emily Dorsch (Black Pearl Sings at Geva Theatre Center; TV: “Boardwalk Empire,” “Madam Secretary”) as Cicero/Plebeian/Ensemble; Michelle Hurst (“Orange Is the New Black,” “Broad City,” Frances Ha) as Soothsayer; Merritt Janson (Notes From Underground, Tamburlaine the Great, and Measure for Measure at TFANA) as Portia; Armando McClain (Julius Caesar, Romeo and Juliet, Much Ado About Nothing at OSF)as Cinna; Galen Molk (Julius Caesar, The Odyssey at OSF) as Cinna, the Poet/Servant/Others; Barret O’Brien (Julius Caesar, Twelfth Night at OSF, Crane Story at Cherry Lane Theatre) as Decius Brutus; Julian Remulla (Julius Caesar, Romeo and Juliet, Hamlet at OSF) as Lucius; Juliana Sass as Artemidorous; Rocco Sisto (The King and I, To Be or Not to Be, Amadeus, Seminar on Broadway) as Julius Caesar; Stephen M. Spencer (Julius Caesar, Othello, Love’s Labor’s Lost at OSF) as Caska; and Tiffany Rachelle Stewart (The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time on Broadway, MTC’s Sugar in Our Wounds) as Calphurnia.

Caska (Stephen Michael Spencer) kneels over Cassius’s corpse. Photograph by Henry Grossman.

The creative team includes Sibyl Wickersheimer (Scenic Designer), Raquel Barreto (Costume Designer), Christopher Akerlind (Lighting Designer), Paul James Prendergast (Composer & Sound Designer), Erika Chong Shuch (Choreographer), Alison Bomber (Voice & Text Coach), Jack Doulin (Casting Director), Jonathan Kalb (Dramaturg), U. Jonathan Toppo (Fight Director), Andrew Diaz (Properties Supervisor), and Shane Schnetzler (Stage Manager).

Tickets are on sale to the public at www.tfana.org, 866.811.4111, and Polonsky Shakespeare Center box office. Polonsky Shakespeare Center is located at 262 Ashland Place, Brooklyn.

Lia Chang
Lia Chang

Lia Chang is an actor, a multi-media content producer and co-founder of Bev’s Girl Films, making films that foster inclusion and diversity on both sides of the camera. Bev’s Girl Films’ debut short film, Hide and Seek was a top ten film in the Asian American Film Lab’s 2015 72 Hour Shootout Filmmaking Competition, and she received a Best Actress nomination. BGF collaborates with and produces multi-media content for artists, actors, designers, theatrical productions, composers,  musicians and corporations. Lia is also an internationally published and exhibited photographer, a multi-platform journalist, and a publicist. Lia has appeared in the films Wolf, New Jack City, A Kiss Before Dying, King of New York, Big Trouble in Little China, The Last Dragon, Taxman and Hide and Seek. She is profiled in Jade Magazine and Playbill.com.

All text, graphics, articles & photographs: © 2000-2019 Lia Chang Multimedia. All rights reserved. All materials contained on this site are protected by United States copyright law and may not be reproduced, distributed, transmitted, displayed, published or broadcast without the prior written permission of Lia Chang. You may not alter or remove any trademark, copyright or other notice from copies of the content. For permission, please contact Lia at liachangpr@gmail.com

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