Julius Caesar: from 44 BC to 2022 AD
Director Diane Page and Designer Khadija Raza share how they’re bringing Shakespeare’s 400 year old play on events from 2,000 years ago to life for the modern day
The events of Julius Caesar may have taken place 2,065 years ago, but Ancient Rome has never felt closer to home.
A new production of Julius Caesar, playing both at the Globe Theatre and on the road as part of our Summer 2022 season, looks at our own political landscape through the lenses of gender, race, class and violence. We caught up with Director Diane Page and Designer Khadija Raza to hear more about how they’re bringing Shakespeare’s epic tragedy to life.
What does Julius Caesar mean to you, today, in 2022?
Diane Page: With any classic for me the question has to be; what does this story mean to us now. Julius Caesar felt like the perfect play to explore our own political landscape, the language of violence, and the pressures of power. I wanted to repurpose Julius Caesar to challenge what power looks like now, especially for women. And how this changes, depending on race and class. Always with the questions; who has power, how do we gain it and how is it lost.
Khadija Raza: In this play, we see that the candidates we think are a joke, the ones we don’t see coming, are the ones we should be afraid of. And we are confronting modern society’s treatment and views of women in positions of power.
How does it feel to stage this work inside the historic wooden ‘O’ of the Globe, in the city that is the political heart of the country?
DP: I get this indescribable feeling when I step into the Globe, I can’t fully explain it; it’s beautiful, but also when I was a kid, my grandparents used to live nearby and sometimes I’d play out along the river with my cousins, and I actually remember the new Globe being built and seeing the building site, so this particularly feels very special to me. And the fact that Julius Caesar is asking questions of our own political landscape right now in such close proximity to the Houses of Parliament, feels important.
How have you approached making the work for the tour beyond London to communities across the UK?
DP: It’s really exciting because the cast are responding to new spaces, and therefore responding to communities across the UK. I love it, because it keeps the play present and new. It feels really wonderful to share work that isn’t only exclusive to London, especially with this play. I’ve approached this by rehearsing for two spaces, the Globe main stage and our tour stage, but always giving the actors freedom to play out their intentions in whichever new space they are in.
Power play and politics
Director Diane Page and Designer Khadija Raza discuss power play and politics in Julius Caesar.
How did your creative conversations together lead you to the design for this production? What main themes and ideas in the play did you aspire to reflect?
KR: We were both interested in looking at political systems and regimes from the past and present, drawing similarities between them and how much is the same now as it was then. We were drawn to symbols of authority, leadership and how power is asserted through these symbols.
Can you tell us about the visual inspirations or influences for the design?
KR: There were many: dictatorships now and in the past, political campaigns and revolutions, military states, the great architecture of ancient Rome, images of protests and civil unrest, and traditional depictions and illustrations of Caesar.
As we tackle Shakespeare’s infamous Julius Caesar this summer, we ask: can violence ever end violence? How do the languages of violence we’ve inherited from history affect people, depending on their race, gender, or class? Is there another way? What can we do not to repeat history? We are living in unprecedented times, and yet these historical events feel closer than ever.