|To begin the theatrical new year, two of the leading creative forces on the Toronto Theatre scene, Groundling Theatre Company and Crow’s Theatre, bring together a powerhouse team of the country’s leading classical actors to present an urgently contemporary spin on Shakespeare’s iconic story of idealism, power, corruption, and violence; JULIUS CAESAR, on stage at Streetcar Crownest January 7 – 26, 2020.
In the most powerful state on earth, a coalition of educated elites, alarmed at their leader’s populist, authoritarian reforms, conspire to bring him down. After his assassination, a civil war erupts, as ghosts, revolutionaries, and politicians contend with what they’ve done, and what’s in store for their republic.
This co-production from Groundling Theatre Company (The Winter’s Tale, Measure for Measure, Lear) and Crow’s Theatre, follows their celebrated partnership bringing the Stratford Festival production of Tartuffe to Toronto earlier this year in partnership with the Canadian Stage Company.
This new production of JULIUS CAESAR re-unites director Chris Abraham, Graham Abbey (playing Marc Antony) and Dion Johnstone (playing Brutus) after their celebrated collaboration on Shakespeare’s Othello at the Stratford Festival in 2015 in which the two were paired as Othello and Iago. Abraham’s production of JULIUS CAESAR, will also feature new writing by frequent collaborator Zack Russell (STARS:Together) and will bring together a who’s who of performers from the Stratford Festival, Shaw Festival Theatre and Soulpepper to Streetcar Crowsnest for the first time, in a production that grapples with the rise of authoritarianism and the ethics of violence as a tool for political change.
“Groundling Theatre is thrilled to partner once again with Crow’s, bringing a stellar cast of Canadian actors together with a contemporary and provocative take on Shakespeare’s political masterpiece,” says Groundling Theatre Founder and Artistic Director Graham Abbey. “We have always sought to present intimate and timely renderings of Shakespeare’s works, and I have no doubt the enduring power and significance of this classic play will be felt in Crow’s’ beautiful venue.”
“This just felt like the right time for me to tackle JULIUS CAESAR – I had to do it,” comments Crow’s Theatre Artistic Director Chris Abraham. “We are living through a global crisis of faith in democratic institutions, rooted in a feeling that the promises of liberal democracy have failed to materialize for many. At the same time, progressive coalitions are pushing against the rising tide of populism around the world. Shakespeare’s CAESAR asks us to think deeply about our relationship to political power, democracy, leadership and social change, but at its core the play is fundamentally worried about the dominance of emotions over reason in human decision making. It’s in this context of Shakespeare’s deep anxiety of the ineradicable irrational part of the human psyche, that the play asks us to question whether assasination or violence should be considered a justifiable political act.”
A highlight of the season, JULIUS CAESAR, in addition to reuniting Abraham with actors Johnstone – recently on Broadway in King Lear – and Abbey (Robert Lepage’s Coriolanus, Breath of Kings), the production welcomes Abraham’s frequent collaborator, Moya O’Connell (Cassius), who most recently played Coriolanus at Bard on the Beach as well as lauded festival star Jim Mezon (Groundling Theatre’s Lear) as Julius Caesar, who are joined by Sarah Afful (Love Labour’s Lost, Macbeth/Stratford), André Sills (Coriolanus/Stratford), Walter Borden (Lilies/Buddies in Bad Times), Diego Matamaros (August: Osage County/Soulpepper), Michelle Giroux(The Front Page, Othello/Stratford), Ryan Cunningham(King Lear/NAC), and Jani Lauzon(Prophecy Fog, The Almighty Voice and His Wife/Soulpepper).
Casting a contemporary gaze on the play, this modern-dress production of JULIUS CAESAR will build on Abraham’s growing body of work in the Shakespearean canon, including his lauded Stratford productions of A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Othello, The Taming of the Shrew, and most recently, Macbeth for Vancouver’s Bard on the Beach.
Abraham is joined by creative leads Lorenzo Savoini, who will design the set and lighting (Streetcar Named Desire/Soulpepper), Thomas Ryder Payne (The Brothers Size/Soulpepper) will design sound, and Ming Wong (The Wedding Party/Crow’s Theatre) will design costumes. Zack Russell joins Abraham as a writer and co-adaptor of the text.
JULIUS CAESAR runs January 7 – January 26 at Streetcar Crowsnest (345 Carlaw Avenue) in the Guloien Theatre. Performances are scheduled Tuesday through Saturday at 7:30pm, with 2:00pm matinees on Wednesdays, Saturdays, and Sundays beginning January 11th.
Single tickets for 2019.2020 performances range from $20.00 to $55.00 CDN. Subscription and single ticket discounts are available for seniors and students. Get more information and buy tickets at crowstheatre.com.
About Groundling Theatre Company
Founded in 2011 by acclaimed stage, TV and film actor Graham Abbey, Groundling Theatre Co. is a new Toronto based theatre company committed to producing imaginative, original and accessible productions of Shakespeares plays as well as works inspired by Shakespeare, in an effort to educate and inspire a new generation of audiences and artists.
By taking Shakespeare out of its traditional context Groundling Theatre hopes to re-examine and re-interpret the canon, allowing audiences old and new alike to relate the timeless themes contained in Shakespeare’s plays to their own world and the issues relevant to a contemporary Canadian context.
About Crow’s Theatre
Crow’s ignites passionate and enduring engagement between our audiences and artists by creating, producing and promoting unforgettable theatre that examines and illuminates the pivotal narratives of our times. Founded in 1983, Crow’s Theatre is recognized in the Canadian theatre landscape as a daring, award-winning theatre company. Crow’s has premiered over50 new Canadian works, including multiple award-winning productions such as SEEDS, Eternal Hydra, Time After Time: The Chet Baker Project,A Short History of Night, Dali, and Unidentified Human Remainsand TheTrue Nature of Love.
In recent years, Crow’s Theatre has presented the world-premiere of Kristen Thomson’s The Wedding Party, presented the international success Winners & Losers,debuted the world premiere of Annabel Soutar’s critically acclaimed The Watershed, and re-introduced theatre audiences to Torquil Campbell with the hit True Crime.