Showing posts with label Guy Unsworth. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Guy Unsworth. Show all posts

Wednesday, April 25, 2018

SRT's Shakespeare in the Park : Julius Caesar - Diva's Interview with Director, Guy Unsworth


Freelance director Guy Unsworth is currently back here working on another Singapore Repertory Theatre (SRT) production - the upcoming performance of Shakespeare in the Park : Julius Caesar.

Last year, he directed the dark comedy SRTs "Hand of God", which scored positive reviews from critics and audiences. His recent works include an acclaimed UK tour of John Steinbeck's "Of Mice and Men" and his own adaptation of "Some Mothers Do 'Ave 'Em".

Even though he is busy getting the play ready for the 2 May launch date, Red Dot Diva managed to grab a few minutes of his time for an interview:

Red Dot Diva: How did you get involved with SRT's Shakespeare in the Park: Julius Caesar? 
Guy Unsworth: I was introduced to Gaurav Kripalani and Juliet Chia back in 2016 and since then we’ve been talking about the exciting potential of Julius Caesar. I came to Singapore last year to stage Hand to God, and since then have been working solidly on this production.

RDD: What is it like adapting the play for Singapore audiences?
Guy: It’s a fun challenge. I was very keen to find a contemporary equivalent that would work in the international community of Singapore. There’s a lot of talk about Rome and Romans in the play, but specifically the honour, history and responsibility that that identity carries. The big question for me to answer therefore was ‘What is the equivalent of Rome today?’. More than just a literal place, 'Rome' is an identity, it’s a community, and a title which binds these people together. It then struck me that intergovernmental organisations like NATO, the UN, G7, G20 etc. carry stakes on a much more global scale. They require their members to work as a team, but inevitably alliances form and factions are made. And where better to have lots of different nationalities coming together than Singapore? So it seemed a perfect fit to set this at a R.O.M.E. summit.

I was also excited by the age range of the Singapore audiences and I want the show to reach out to younger audience members. When I was a teenager I found Shakespeare very difficult to get my head into, so whenever I direct it, I'm very keen to bear my younger self in mind. It's going to be pretty fast and furious, and there are lots of theatrical surprises along the way. I want to make something which my teenage self would have enjoyed.

RDD: What made you decide to “gender-bend” the roles of Caesar and Cassius? 
Guy: It’s a play about politics and power dynamics, so with a contemporary setting, it would seem backward to cast these figureheads as all male. In fact if we stuck to the original genders, there would be 2 female parts and 45 male parts! Whilst Shakespeare wrote a show about a monumental event in history, he was clearly most interested in the dynamic between his central characters. And whilst the facts of Caesar’s death were roughly documented in history (by Plutarch), the personalities of the main characters and the way they all interact is more an invention of Shakespeare. When casting, I became interested in who these people might be in today’s society, and indeed what their relationships are, and I think our casting reflects some very unique but appropriate choices. Jo Kukuthas plays Caesar, a woman with supreme power in Rome. Whilst gender doesn’t feel so significant that a gender swap would be impossible, it’s the casual descriptions of a man’s world and Caesar’s power over men which seems to have a special resonance across the world today, bringing to the table for discussion the representation and role of women in power, and the attitudes from the public or, indeed, men.

Similarly, the central pairing of Cassius and Brutus, two politicians who collude to overthrow Caesar, seems to have a depth beyond the basic politics. They are emotionally tangled with one another, and the battle between their professional and personal relationship offers great opportunities. I’m thrilled that Julie Wee and Ghafir Akhbar are taking on this very exciting duo.

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