Stage Door News

Toronto: Hart House Theatre presents “Portia’s Julius Caesar” November 15-30

Monday, October 21, 2019

Opening on November 15, Hart House Theatre continues to mark its 100th Anniversary Season and presents one of Shakespeare's most memorable political dramas...with a big twist. This new work keeps all the best parts of The Bard's work and includes the perspective of the women and servants who were embroiled in the political upheaval. Introduced to Toronto audiences by outdoor company Shakespeare in the Ruff in 2018, this production of Portia's Julius Caesar brings the action indoors and takes full advantage of what Hart House Theatre has to offer: featuring showcase performances by trained, emergent talent, who are supported by a professional production team and a dedicated, large audience.

About the show: Named one of the top shows of 2018 by The Toronto Star after its summer premiere, Portia's Julius Caesar is an unapologetically feminist take on Shakespeare's classic account of political upheaval. Through the eyes of a Roman wife, Portia's Julius Caesar uses a mix of new words and the rich poetry from over 20 of Shakespeare's works to explore the role of women in classic story-telling, ancient Roman society and politics.

We welcome the creator of the piece, four-time Dora Award-nominated actress and playwright Kaitlyn Riordan to our theatre. Kaitlyn has lived and trained overseas and across the continent and is a co-Artistic Director of critically acclaimed Shakespeare in the Ruff, and was a founding member of the company in 2012. Along with Portia's Julius Caesar, she has also written a play about Emily Carr, and is working on a new Shakespearean adaptation with Jani Lauzon.

When asked: What inspired you to create this text?, Kaitlyn had this to say:
"'Friends, Romans, Countrymen, lend me your ears.' I got to perform this great text when I lived to New York City and was in an all-female production of Julius Caesar. I got to win a crowd over to my side, to manipulate the plebeians, and to win the day! Playing Marc Antony was glorious and as I looked around Shakespeare's work for other tragic heroes to play, I noticed something: they were pretty much all male. I just do all-female productions from here on in, re-imagining male roles as female ones? But what if I want to see women at the heart of Shakespearean tragedies, being women? Talking about female issues as well as the state of the Republic? And what if I also want to know what the men were up to? How do I have it all, you ask? 

Well...Portia's Julius Caesar is my attempt at having it all. The highlights of Shakespeare's play along with the female perspective front and centre; the perspective which we barely see in the original. By exploring themes of motherhood, friendship, and moral dilemma from a different lens, the play only becomes richer for having more at stake. Hearing from the wives, mothers, lovers, and slaves of the powerful men at the centre of Julius Caesar, we encounter a depth of point of view in which more people can see themselves reflected. It doesn't lead to easy answers, just as in the original play - How do we deal with a budding dictator? How do we preserve a world which we see crumbling before our eyes? Is violence ever the answer? Asking those questions of an audience is exactly what Shakespeare did, and with Portia's Julius Caesar, the character asking those questions also happens to be breast feeding at the same time."

To direct the piece, we welcome Eva Barrie. Eva is a Dora Award-winning actor, director, creator and a Co-Artistic Director of Shakespeare in the Ruff. No stranger to Shakespearean adaptions, Eva was in Berlin's first Shakespeare in the Park ensemble, and is currently developing an adaption of The Taming of the Shrew. Eva is the recipient of the Urjo Kareda Residency at Tarragon Theatre for the 2019/2020 season. Her residency focus is on artistic direction and new play development. Eva looks forward to the opportunity to further develop Portia's Julius Caesar in an indoor venue, making use of Hart House Theatre's production resources and technical capacity.

Joining Kaitlyn and Eva on the professional Production Team are designers Rachel Forbes(sets), Julia Kim (costumes), Chris Malkowski (lights) and Andy Trithardt (sound). This team is creating the politically charged world of Portia's Julius Caesar.

Portia's Julius Caesar

By Kaitlyn Riordan
Directed by Eva BarrieSet Design by Rachel Forbes
Costume Design by Julia Kim
Lighting Design by Chris Malkowski
Sound Design by Andy Trithardt

On Stage Nov. 15-30, 2019

Week 1: Fri. & Sat., 8 pm

Week 2: Wed. to Sat., 8 pm

Week 3: Wed.
to Sat., 8 pm and Sat., 2 pm

Postshow Talkbacks: Sat., Nov. 16 and Thurs., Nov. 21

Preshow Artist Chat: Sat., Nov. 30 at 1 pm

Warning: The show contains some violent content

Single Ticket Prices
Adults: $28
Seniors: $20
Students: $15
$12 Student tickets every Wednesday night

Contact 416.978.2452
Hart House Main Information Desk