I’m writing this on the train from New York, where I spent the weekend with Arthur Nauzyciel, the French director who will be staging Julius Caesar for us. We were meeting with set, costume and lighting designers, and I think we’ve landed on a wonderful team. Details to follow.
When Arthur landed at JFK he received some exciting news; he has just been appointed Artistic Director of the National Theatre in Orléans, a beautiful city in the Loire Valley. This gives Julius Caesar particular significance, because it’ll be the last independent production he’ll be directing for a while.
As Arthur unfolded his plans for Julius Caesar to his potential designers, I became increasingly excited. Many people have said that it’s a great play for our own time – its subject is regime change, after all, and political uncertainty. But as Arthur points out, that may be too easy and limiting a reading of Shakespeare’s great text, revealing nothing more about our current situation than we already know. Rather he’s interested in what is unfamiliar in the text; its sense of history, of ghosts and night, of the supernatural.
There is often a dreamlike quality to Arthur’s theatre – an ethereal, shifting tone that combines both ancient and modern elements, and which will run counter to the contemporary performance tradition that sets Julius Caesar in modern army fatigues. I agree with Arthur that we go to the theatre not only to see mirrors of ourselves, but to stimulate our fantasy and imagination. I can’t wait to see where this journey leads us, and will keep you posted as our plans for the production develop.
– Gideon Lester