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Julius Caesar at the Wirtz Center forges 'a new way into Rome'

Lack of trust in elected leaders and a country rising up in a time of crisis. Ambition and greed gone too far and an increasingly divided world. Sound anything like what you've been hearing in the news? Excited for a step away from FOX and CNN and into a world a little further away from your own?

Director Danielle Roos, currently in her final year as an MFA student, directs William Shakespeare's "Julius Caesar," one of the most enduring political assassination stories in history. Roos says that "this story reflects things that we've been seeing since the beginning of history," and that for her, "the most important aspect of this play and something that I keep returning to is that one generation in this story makes decisions that the next generation has to pay for." 

With an all-powerful ruler, a skeptical public and ambition gone awry, Shakespeare’s great tragedy centers around a group of people who go to extremes to remove a leader, leading to devastating consequences. This political drama is taking center stage at Northwestern University’s Wirtz Center for the Performing Arts from Jan. 31 to Feb. 9. 

Roos is excited to tell this story with a diverse cast from various races, ethnicities and gender identities who bring new voices to these classic roles. She encourages those who don't think of themselves as a "Shakespeare person" to give this one a chance, since it "feels more like a courtroom drama for the first half of the show and the second half is this epic civil war."

In addition to Roos's new take on the story, the production features breathtaking fight choreography sequences and a set and costumes that transport the audience to a sleek, modern version of Rome.  

Senior Ryan Foreman, playing Julius Caesar describes how "the movement aspect of the show is really exciting for me. We're all creating the soundscape with our bodies and stomping and deep breathing. We're creating the storm ourselves and so you always feel this room full of people that are influencing the weather and the craziness in the streets and the fighting." Felicia Oduh, a senior playing the role of Cassius, says that "we are in a dark time, but our colorful costumes show us trying to bring new life and a new way into Rome."

In an election year, seeing this play is an excellent way to consider the impact of our own leaders and question how politics today will impact our future as a nation and as a planet. “My hope as an artist is that by telling these stories we are demonstrating the need to continually fight for improvements to our own republic, so people of all identities and beliefs will have a voice in what their future holds," said Roos.

Performances of “Julius Caesar” are Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays at 7:30 p.m. and Sundays at 2 p.m. in the Josephine Louis Theater, 20 Arts Circle Drive, on the Evanston campus.

More information and single tickets are available on the Wirtz Center website. Tickets can be purchased by phone at 847-491-7282 or in-person at the Wirtz Center box office, located in the lobby of the Ethel M. Barber Theater, 30 Arts Circle Drive on Northwestern’s Evanston campus. Box office hours are Tuesdays through Fridays from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Saturdays from noon to 4 p.m. The box office is closed Sundays and Mondays.  

The Wirtz Center for the Performing Arts is a member of the Northwestern Arts Circle, which brings together film, humanities, literary arts, music, theater, dance and visual arts.  

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Costume rendering for 'Julius Caesar' running an. 31 to Feb. 9 at Northwestern's Wirtz Center.
Costume rendering for 'Julius Caesar' running an. 31 to Feb. 9 at Northwestern's Wirtz Center.