Julius Caesar Rehearsal Diary – Week 4

Stage four: Walking into Running

Julius Caesar - Rehearsal - Photo by Simon Purse (103) colour.jpg

This fourth week, the company carried on working on detailing the scenes (Walking) before joining them together to find the flow (Running).

The work on the storm scene was deepened in order to create the reality of this storm that is unlike any other. Simon worked with Eleanor (Casca) to find an external conflict whose strength continually prevents her from advancing in space. We also incorporated improvised drum sounds to create the sound of the storm in the rehearsal room. The storm became an obstacle to fight against in order to speak and be heard. It conjured up the essence of the situation making Casca a prey of nature’s temper. We also worked on imagining an audience that were skeptical of Casca’s supernatural visions, to give her a psychological as well as a physical obstacle, and on the muscularity of the text once we had found the dynamism of the situation.

The question of the gender of Brutus’s young attendant, Lucius, arose as the character is played by a woman. Alice is playing four parts (Lucius, Cobbler, Cinna the poet, A Plebeian) and it is important that each of them is distinctive. But would we  be telling a different story if Lucius were Lucia? We realised that making the attendant female would actually reinforce Brutus’s liberal personality bringing up an orphaned girl and giving her access to a world mainly governed by men and trusting her strength to be part of this manly world. Lucius therefore became Lucia.

Julius Caesar - Rehearsal - Photo by Simon Purse (153)  Julius Caesar - Rehearsal - Photo by Simon Purse (97)

As part of the walking phase, we deepened the work on the funeral song and the waltz in the ghosts scene. For both, it was essential to focus on the nature of the situations: the loss of a leader from the plebeian’s point of view, and the memory of the intimate relationship of Brutus and Portia.

Mid-week, the company went to rehearse the crowd scenesAt the Old Vic, to learn how the Plebeains can use the auditorium – a key feature of our production, which will surround the audience with noise and action. It was fantastic to see Simon’s vision: making full use of the whole theatre space. Sadly our company was not complete for this session as we Were unable to call our “Supers”’ (The supernumerary actors playing Plebeians, senators and soldiers) playing the other plebeians. However it gave us a pretty clear idea of the challenges and excitement of theJulius Caesar crowds. We carried on rehearsing with the Supers in the evenings and this time we introduced them to their weapons and we played with physicality: how to carry a gun, how to move with a gun, the weight of it but also the impact after shooting. We also organised a singing session for the Supers with Eleanor (Casca; Musical Director) to learn the funeral song.

We finished the week by working with our fight director Jonathan Waller on the battle scenes and ran a part of the play. We are really looking forward to having the whole company – professionals, students and supers – together next week, and to move into our new rehearsal space, high in the Old Vic building itself!

Written by Charlotte Marigot

Photography by Simon Purse

This June we reunite with Bristol Old Vic Theatre School to present Shakespeare’s riveting political drama Julius Caesar. For more info and to book tickets, click here.


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