Julius Caesar. A divisive leader who holds awesome power.
Concerned that Caesar poses a threat to democracy, revolutionaries take the violent decision to murder him. They have no plan for what comes next. As the world spins out of control, chaos, horror and superstition rush in to fill the void. Civil war erupts and a new leader must rise: but at what cost?
Shakespeare’s political thriller exposes the ambiguous morality in trying to shift power. As we rage against the crises surrounding us, how far will each of us go for our political principles?
Atri Banerjee was listed in The Stage 25 as one to watch in 2022 and previously won Best Director at The Stage Debut Awards in 2019. This is the first show he has directed for the RSC.
The Royal Shakespeare Company (RSC) has today announced casting for its forthcoming production of Shakespeare’s political thriller, Julius Caesar, running between 18 March – 8 April 2023 in the Royal Shakespeare Theatre, Stratford-upon-Avon, before a nine date tour of England visiting Canterbury, Truro, Bradford, Newcastle upon Tyne, Blackpool, Nottingham, Norwich, York and Salford between 20 April – 24 June. Full tour details at the end of the release.
This visceral new production is directed by Atri Banerjee, and will feature Thalissa Teixeira as Brutus and Kelly Gough as Cassius, in the roles of the leaders who plot to kill Caesar.
Talking about the production, Atri Banerjee said:
“I’m thrilled to be welcoming this extraordinary cast to our production of Julius Caesar. In particular, I’m delighted that audiences will get to see Thalissa Teixeira and Kelly Gough as, respectively, Brutus and Cassius. Along with several other parts across the company, we’ve re-imagined these roles to tell a story about power today: who holds it, who wields it, and who gets to challenge it.
“Julius Caesar is the perfect play for our age of emergency, asking uncomfortable questions about today. When asked to imagine a better future for us all, what resources do we have left? What are the limits of peaceful activism? How far would you, personally, go, to make the world a better place?
“By thinking of the roles in this play across intersectional lines – gender, race, class, disability, among others – we’re inviting audience members to think of their own place within the status quo and what might be at stake for each of us within it.
“Thalissa and Kelly are two formidable actors and I’m so excited for their take on this central character relationship, within the context of an extraordinary cast of 19 from across the nation. I can’t wait to show audiences, both in Stratford and on tour, Shakespeare’s searing political tragedy, as pertinent now as it ever was.”
Thalissa Teixeira makes her RSC debut as Brutus. Thalissa earned an Ian Charleson award nomination for her role in Electra at The Old Vic, and in 2021 she was named a Screen International Star of Tomorrow. Other theatre credits include Dr Semmelweis (Bristol Old Vic), Women Beware Women, Othello, The Broken Heart, The Changeling (Shakespeare’s Globe), Blood Wedding (Young Vic), Yerma (Young Vic, Park Avenue Armoury), Julie (National Theatre) and The Night Watch (Manchester Royal Exchange). On television she has played Gemma in Trigonometry (BBC Two), DI Emily Baxter in Ragdoll (Sid Gentle/AMC), and Madge Shelton in Anne Boleyn (Channel 5), as well as appearing in The Musketeers (BBC), Too Close (ITV) and Two Weeks To Live (Sky). Most recent projects include the short film We Met Before, which Thalissa wrote and directed.
Also appearing with the RSC for the first time is Kelly Gough as Cassius. Other theatre credits include The House of Shades (Almeida Theatre), the one-woman show Harm (Bush Theatre), A Streetcar Named Desire (English Touring Theatre), Don Carlos (ARA), Macbeth (Second Age), All In The Timing (Iris Theatre), Big Love (Abbey Theatre), Falling Out of Love (Yew Tree Theatre), Macbecks (Long Road Productions), Pilgrims of the Night (Rough Magic), Playboy of the Western World (Druid Theatre), Phaedra, Vinegar Tom, Terrorism, Three Sisters, Twelfth Night and Yeats Trilogy (Samuel Beckett Theatre).
On film Kelly has appeared in Tarrac, Out of Innocence, Kill Command, Jump and Belonging to Laura. Television credits include Grace, Marcella, Shadow and Bone, Call the Midwife, Broadchurch, Vera, Casualty, Law & Order and Raw. Kelly speaks fluent Irish and was nominated for Richard Harris Actor of the year at the Oireachtas Irish language media awards in 2014 for her portrayal of Alix in BBC Northern Ireland drama Scúp.
William Robinson makes his RSC debut as Mark Antony. Other theatre credits include Britannicus (Lyric Hammersmith), Bacon (Finborough Theatre) and Romeo and Juliet (Young Shakespeare Co.) Television credits include Masters of the Air (Apple TV) and Cuffs (BBC). William has appeared in the feature film God’s Spy, and the short films Femme (Agile Films) and Queens (Orange Door Productions).
Nigel Barrett (Julius Caesar), Nadi Kemp-Sayfi (Portia) and Jimena Larraguivel (Calpurnia) all make a welcome return to the RSC.
Nigel Barrett’s previous RSC credits include: Kingdom Come and Richard III – An Arab Tragedy. Other theatre credits include Kidstown (National Theatre Wales), Little Bits of Ruined Beauty (Pentabus), Britannicus (Lyric Hammersmith), I Am Kevin, 100:Unearthed (Wildworks), Living Newspaper (Royal Court), Pops (Edinburgh/High Tide Festival), The Mysteries (Royal Exchange Manchester), Party Skills for the End of the World (Manchester International Festival/ Shoreditch Town Hall), Margate/Dreamland (National Theatre/ Shoreditch Town Hall), Get Stuff Break Free, The Eye Test (National Theatre) and The Passion (National Theatre of Wales). Film and television credits include Doctors, Casualty, The Mysteries, Coast, The Lens, Crimewatch (BBC) and England My England (Film 4).
Nadi Kemp-Sayfi’s previous RSC credits include The Whip, A Museum in Baghdad and King John. Other theatre credits include Hakawatis: Women of the Arabian Nights, The Tempest, Much Ado About Nothing, Hamlet, Twelfth Night and A Midsummer Night’s Dream (Shakespeare’s Globe), War with the Newts (Knaïve Theatre), Wake, Mittwoch Aus Licht, Life is a Dream (Birmingham Opera Company), 101 Dalmatians, Between The Two, Three Wheels on the Wagon, The Witches’ Promise, Under The Stars (Birmingham Rep), Hijabi Monologues (The Bush Theatre), Phone Home (Upstart Theatre & Creative Europe), Save our School Dinners… Jamie! (Belgrade Theatre Coventry & Old Rep) and Burning Books and She (Arena Theatre). Radio credits include The Archers and Words and Music.
Jimena Larraguivel’s previous RSC credits include Day of the Living. Other theatre credits include A Fight Against (Royal Court Theatre), Dear Elizabeth (Gate Theatre), Love in the Time of Corona (Jermyn Street Theatre), Queen of Mexico (Omnibus Theatre), Faces in the Crowd (Gate Theatre), Shakespeare Walks and Shakespeare within the Abbey (Shakespeare’s Globe) and The House of Bernarda Alba (Cervantes Theatre). Television credits include Apple Tree Yard, and film credits include Spider-Man: Far From Home.
The full cast is: Jamal Ajala (Lucius), Mercedes Assad (Marullus/Artemidorus), Annabel Baldwin (Soothsayer), Nigel Barrett (Julius Caesar), Matt Ray Brown (Cicero), Matthew Bulgo (Casca), Ella Dacres (Octavius Caesar), Joshua Dunn (Cinna The Poet/Popilius/Carpenter), Katie Erich (Caius Ligarius/Cobbler), Niamh Finlay (Pindarus), Kelly Gough (Cassius), Gina Isaac (Decius Brutus), Robert Jackson (Flavius/Cinna The Conspirator), Tom Kanji (Metellus Cimber/Lepidus), Nadi Kemp-Sayfi (Portia), Jimena Larraguivel (Calpurnia), Pedro Leandro (Trebonius), William Robinson (Mark Antony) and Thalissa Teixeira (Brutus).
After its run in Stratford-upon-Avon Julius Caesar will visit nine venues across the country including RSC Partner Theatres. This marks the beginning of an ambitious three-year programme to expand the reach of the Company’s national touring footprint. The focus is on co-creation with the communities the RSC serves at the heart of its theatre-making, and is supported using public funding by the National Lottery through Arts Council England.
The production will also feature a Community Chorus. There will be a different group of people playing the Chorus in each venue the production visits, with each group made up of community leaders, workers and volunteers from the local area. This production of Julius Caesar explores questions such as gender in leadership and power, and the Chorus will provide a commentary on the politics of the play from the perspective of identities that have been marginalised, either at different points in history or in our world today. Recruitment is currently taking place, and the RSC anticipates that those participating will include teachers, support workers, campaigners and faith leaders.
Director, Atri Banerjee won The Stage Debut Award for Best Director, and a UK Theatre Award nomination for his production of Hobson’s Choice at the Royal Exchange Manchester. Other credits include The Glass Menagerie (Royal Exchange Manchester), Britannicus (Lyric Hammersmith), Kes (Octagon Theatre, Bolton/Theatre By The Lake, Keswick), Harm (Bush Theatre, also broadcast on BBC Four), and Utopia (Royal Exchange Theatre). Last year Atri was named in The Stage 25 list of theatre-makers to look out for in 2022 and beyond, and in November 2022, along with Rachel Bagshaw, he was awarded a Peter Hall bursary by the National Theatre, which will support Atri in developing work for the NT’s stages.
Atri’s role was recruited through OpenHire, a new initiative which aims to improve transparency and access to freelance creative jobs in theatre.
Joining Atri on the creative team are: Rosanna Vize (Set Designer and Co-Costume Designer), Tomás Palmer (Co-Costume Designer), Lee Curran (Lighting), Jasmin Kent Rodgman (Music), Claire Windsor (Sound), Jennifer Jackson (Movement), Rachel Bown-Williams and Ruth Cooper-Brown (Fights), Alison Bomber (Voice and Text) and Matthew Dewsbury CDG (Casting).