The story of Caesar and the Roman Senate will find a parallel in the current political climate as a local theater company brings Shakespeare into 2012.
“The Tragedy of Julius Caesar” will be presented with a contemporary twist by Band of Brothers Shakespeare Company at 7 p.m. July 12-14 and 18-21 at the main pavilion in Stackhouse Park, Westmont entrance.
Producer Brad Gordon, a former history teacher, could see what he called the current contentious political climate parallel the Senate of Caesar’s time.
“There’s a lack of civility in today’s politics,” he said. “Caesar got a knife in the back literally, but now everyone gets stabbed in the back figuratively.”
Another similarity Gordon sees is the fact that the current president and Caesar are both known as orators, able to tip the public’s opinion with their speech-making ability.
“The power of their speech-making persuaded the populace,” he said. “And Mark Antony spoke of money. If you look at today’s politicians, they’re not serving the nation. The Founding Fathers made sacrifices, all to start a new nation. I wish politicians now would give more to the nation.”
Gordon also hopes the play will make people think and not be easily swayed.
“Think about what you really think,” he said. “Don’t blindly follow.”
Gordon also sees this year’s and last year’s plays as bookends.
Both are tragedies about Roman heroes.
Last year, the company performed the lesser known “Coriolanus,” a military hero who wasn’t politically correct because he couldn’t do what was expected of him.
“I think Caesar is the flip side,” Gordon said. “He’s politically correct and gets too much power so the others want to be rid of him. Watch out, you might get what you’re after. The tag line this year is ‘The evil men do lives after them.’ Did they think it would go this far?”
While last year’s production was traditional and this year’s is contemporary, a connection they have is the use of the same set.
Gordon said the Roman columns and steps used in Coriolanus’ death scene will portray the modern day Senate steps where Caesar will be killed.
Music for the contemporary-ripped-from-the-headlines tale will be fast-paced, but not so easily recognizable to the audience.
“Peter Gabriel worked with the London Symphony to do classical arrangements of his work,” Gordon said. “This will be totally symphonic, with peaks, valleys and passions.”
Gordon wants the play to be more like a TV drama, such as “Law and Order” or “West Wing.”
As artistic director, Gordon’s wife, Laura, oversees the cast and concept, trying to add flair where she can.
“Technically, this is a tragedy, but it’s based on fact,” she said. “It’s documented that Caesar was killed on March 15, the Ides of March. There were earthquakes and fires in the sky.”
With the play taking on a modern slant, Gordon will have an easier time with costuming, focusing on business suits for men and women.
Longtime Band of Brothers member Doug Meagher, who directed “Coriolanus,” will direct this year’s production as well as portraying Mark Antony.
“Doug is an actor’s director,” Gordon said.
“He gets up with the actors and gets down to the nitty gritty. I’d be a fool not to take advantage of his talent.”
Last year, Meagher had the starring role as well as directing, but this year, his acting part is a bit smaller.
“Mark Antony speaks in chunks of texts and isn’t on all the time, so it makes it easier to direct,” Gordon said.
Meagher first appeared with Band of Brothers in “Much Ado About Nothing” with a walk-on part.
Tony Malvoisin, who has appeared in numerous productions, will star as Roman general and senator Julius Caesar.
Justin Wested will take on the pivotal role of Marcus Brutus, known as the conscience of the play.
“His reaction is what you would think,” Gordon said. “It’s the most difficult role, hands down.”
Newcomer Robert Cerllis-Keiser, a student at St. Francis University, will play Cassius, a longtime acquaintance of Caesar and a role that has the second-most lines in the play.
Another newcomer, Janelle Lynne, will play Portia, wife of Brutus.
Longtime member Amanda Fisher will portray Cinna the Poet, a reporter in the modern translation.
“She will show the effect of media on popular opinion,” Gordon said.
Randy Hochstein, also known as Rav, will play the Soothsayer, whose dire warnings are not heeded by anyone.
Other cast members include John and Natalie Kurchak, April Yanko, Dante Horvath, Robb Miller, Lou Horvath and Michael Walther.
“We have all ages and levels of experience,” Gordon said. “The older actors teach the younger ones. I’ve never seen a company put egos aside and work together like this one does.”
Food will be available for purchase from First Presbyterian Church, with proceeds going to its missions program, or guests may bring their own picnic fare.
Blankets and lawn chairs may be used for seating, and a shuttle will be available at 6 p.m. each evening from Westmont Middle School.
What: “The Tragedy of Julius Caesar” by Band of Brothers Shakespeare Company.
When: 7 p.m. July 12-14 and 18-21.
Where: Main pavilion at Stackhouse Park, Westmont entrance.
Tickets: $15 for adults and $10 for senior citizens and students.
Information: 539-9500 or bandofbrothersshakespeare.org.