Date(s) - 07/23/2017
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This year’s production is set in a contentious political world of modern Rome where, just as in ancient times, citizens are divided over whether a strong leader is necessary to bring order or whether the country should remain a free democratic republic. Shakespeare, a royalist when there were a number of plots against Queen Elizabeth’s monarchy, wrote “Julius Caesar” to show how the violent removal of a powerful leader can only lead to chaos, according to John Slade, who was originally directing the production.
Slade died July 7 from injuries sustained in a car accident that occurred on his way home to Ojai from rehearsal. Michael J. Arndt, founder and artistic director of the festival, stepped in to direct “Julius Caesar.” Arndt is working with associate artistic director Brett Elliott, who is playing Marc Antony, and Jason D. Rennie, who is portraying Cinna, to present the play as Slade intended.
This would have been the fourth KSF production Slade directed. He also acted in many of the festival’s plays, including the title role in “King Lear,” when he wasn’t touring the country performing his one-man concert play, “Walt Whitman, Live.”
Gary Best, a Ventura-based actor and co-founder of the Ventura Improv Company, plays Caesar. Elliott returns to the Kingsmen stage after having directed last year’s popular “A Midsummer Night’s Dream.”
Actors in gender-swapped roles include Trisha Miller as Cassius, Tessa Slovis as Massala and Kaitlin Ruby as Soothsayer. In addition to Miller, actors returning after first appearing on the Kingsmen stage in the season opener, “Love’s Labour’s Lost,” are Todd Lanker as Brutus, Louis Jerry Kernion as Cobbler and Tom Ashworth as Ligarius.
KSF veteran Kenny Toll, who appeared as Dumaine in the season opener, plays Octavius Caesar. Samantha Eggers is Calpurnia and Angela Gulner is Portia. Both women appeared in last season’s “A Midsummer Night’s Dream.” Longtime company actor Michael Faulkner portrays Decius.
The Kingsmen Shakespeare Company is the professional theater company of Cal Lutheran.