Wednesday, 24 February 2016

Shaking up Dramaturgy: James Beagon from Aulos talks Caesar

A brand new twist on Shakespeare’s classic sees the play recast in the grimy underworld beneath the charade of the modern football celebrity. Triumph and glory may be eternal, but individuals are not. Personal codes of honour are all that are left in a world of ultras, hooligans and futile violence.


What was the inspiration for this performance?
The inspiration for this football-based version of Julius Caesar came primarily from a desire to try to bring it to audiences who might not normally engage with Shakespeare. The ongoing FIFA corruption crisis means that our take on the show is about as current as you can get, and thus the topics we deal with are right at the forefront of public consciousness.




How did you go about gathering the team for it?
Aulos Productions has produced several shows in the past few years and thus several team members carried on over from our most recent Fringe show, Women of the Mourning Fields. Our new team members, both cast and crew, came from a mixture of an open auditions process and responses to our online adverts aimed at the amateur and student theatre community in Edinburgh.

How did you become interested in making performance?
I have always been interested in creating my own media from an early age, primarily through creative writing. I became interested in theatre performance specifically when I came to Edinburgh for
university and found myself getting heavily involved with the Edinburgh University Theatre Company based on a chance decision in Fresher's Week. 

Since graduating, I've decided that I want to continue making performance theatre as a career and thus I've maintained those old links whilst starting to head off in my own direction to make the best theatre that appeals to me.


Was your process typical of the way that you make a performance?
My most recent productions have been written as well as directed by myself, so this project has actually been a change for me. 

Mostly, it called for a change in my process of abridging the text to suit the message I wanted to get across rather than simply writing it from scratch. That said, many things about my directing process remain the same. For instance, I'm particularly fond of long-form characterisation exercises, which I have used effectively for previous productions and they continue to work well for Julius Caesar.

What do you hope that the audience will experience?
I hope the audience will enjoy the experience of something
watching something that feels both classic and contemporary. For those new to Shakespeare, I hope it encourages them to continue to engage with more Shakespeare productions in the future of various different styles. 

For those who have seen many productions of Shakespeare and Julius Caesar before, I hope to challenge any preconceptions they might have about the text or Shakespearean performance in general with a new and unconventional setting.

What strategies did you consider towards shaping this audience experience?

We are employing the use of filmed video alongside live performance, not only in the form of newsreels within the universe of Julius Caesar but with our in-universe stylised adverts that we've made to help highlight the overlap between the modern celebrity and the world of football. Hopefully this approach will help the audience engage more fully with the world we're creating, particularly if football is not something they are inherently familiar with.


Do you see your work within any particular tradition?
For Aulos Productions as a whole, there has been a certain amount of inspiration from the work of the ancient Greek playwrights (Aeschlyus, Sophocles, Euripides), mainly in regards to combining the role of director and writer. But doing Julius Caesar has been much more a case of simply putting my directing experience from past productions to the most practical use. Whilst it is Shakespeare, the production still follows the same rules as any other. It's always great to experiment and try out new techniques, but I don't think it's helpful to limit yourself to one particular 'tradition' without flexibility.

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