Avant Bard to debut dramatic new take on ‘Julius Caesar’

Director Kathleen Akerley's adaptation modernizes the story's politics by removing Caesar from the stage.

Arlington’s Avant Bard Theatre continues its 2023 season with Kathleen Akerley’s new adaptation of Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar. Akerley, who is no stranger to Avant Bard, will also direct.

Julius Caesar famously explores a vacuum in leadership, but within a political structure that is too alien to us to be anything other than a period piece or bluntly handled metaphor. Avant Bard’s reimagining modernizes the politics of the play not by targeting Caesar but by removing Caesar entirely from the stage.

“I’m hoping this production will encourage audiences to think as much or more about the complexities of being governed as it does about those in power,” said Akerley. “All the major characters in the play talk about the good of Rome, but most of them, in company with the playwright, are dismissive of the individual Roman citizens. So, what can be made of that?”

This production will focus on an ensemble of seven actors who dismantle this traditional story to explain how leadership is not defined by Caesar’s ambition or Brutus’ and Antony’s famous funeral speeches, but by the shifting personalities and demands of the citizenry. Video and projections will accompany the actors on stage to place these questions squarely in post-2016 America: is consensus even possible?

“The adaptation is designed to explode our preconceptions about Shakespeare’s text—to break everything apart and re-immerse the pieces into our modern political consciousness,” said Seamus Miller, a member of the Julius Caesar ensemble cast. “It is a Julius Caesar with no one playing Caesar; instead, we see the narrative around the assassination from multiple perspectives—classical and contemporary, digital and live.”

Julius Caesar begins previews March 9, 2023, and will play through April 1, 2023, presented by Avant Bard Theatre performing at Gunston Arts Center Theatre Two, 2700 S. Lang Street, Arlington, VA. General Admission tickets are $40. For tickets and details, visit Avant Bard’s website.

Avant Bard is committed to making theater accessible and affordable. Gunston Arts Center, Theatre Two, is wheelchair accessible. Additionally, the following performances will feature American Sign Language interpretation:

• Thursday, Mar. 23, 2023, 7:30 p.m.
• Saturday, Mar. 31, 2023, 7:30 p.m.

Avant Bard offers students, veterans, service members, and their families and caregivers a 50 percent discount on all tickets. All previews and Saturday matinees at 2 p.m. are Pay What You Can, which means patrons can name their ticket price, with no set minimum and no limit on the number of tickets purchased.

COVID Safety: Avant Bard requests that patrons wear face masks for the safety of the performers.

Avant Bard Theatre is an Arlington-based performing arts organization dedicated primarily to producing classic works—both time-tested and contemporary classics; emphasizing a provocative, bold approach in an intimate setting; and training and showcasing the best emerging talent in the region, mentored by seasoned, professional theater artists. Avant Bard’s mission is expressed through its commitment to artistic excellence, collaboration, talent development, and promoting educational and social outreach.


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