The Ides of March are coming a month late to the Vineyard.
Friends, Romans, countrymen, and Vineyarders are invited to Shakespeare for the Masses’ staging of Julius Caesar at the Pit Stop this weekend.
The troupe, produced by the Vineyard Playhouse, has been staging irreverent takes on the Bard’s classics since 2007. The actors perform with scripts in hand, and there is little to no rehearsal time. When the actors playing Mark Antony, Cassius, Brutus and the ill-fated Caesar take the stage Friday, it will be the first rehearsal, so to speak, said Chelsea McCarthy, who cofounded the series with Nicole Galland.
“We really rely on the actors to do the work,” said
As the series grows, some plays are performed for the second time. The troupe performed Julius Caesar during its first season, Ms. McCarthy said, but with new performances, “we go through and we do a brand-new edit and write some new narration.” Those who saw last month’s rendition of All’s Well that End’s Well at the Pit Stop, as well as the original iteration a few years ago, “saw two completely different shows,” she noted.
This version of Julius Caesar has been cut from about an hour and a half to 50 minutes, she said, but isn’t greatly changed from the first rendition, with classic scenes left in place. “Julius Caesar has some of the greatest written scenes in Shakespeare’s canon,” Ms. McCarthy said, citing the dramatic tent scene between Brutus and Cassius. During that scene, she said, “we’re not touching a word here.”
The casting has been changed a bit. One of Shakespeare for the Masses’ goals, Ms. McCarthy said, is “to change people’s perception of how Shakespeare is performed . . . it’s a staged reading so we can have a good time with it.” That includes mixing up casting regarding the age and sex of the characters. This weekend, the roles of Julius Caesar and Cassius will be played by women.
In addition to Ms. McCarthy and Ms. Galland, the cast includes Jill Macy, Chris Roberts, Brian Ditchfield, Molly Purves, Rob Myers, Xavier Powers and Jihan Ponti.
“We have really great actors playing the roles,” she said.
While Ms. Galland or Ms. McCarthy usually take the narration role, Jamie Alley will be the narrator this weekend, a bit of casting that was a perfect fit, Ms. McCarthy said.
Another change is the location at the Pit Stop. It’s a “funky, intimate and really cool” venue, Ms. McCarthy said. “I think it’s going to be a really fun time.”
The audience can expect a few battle scenes “that are definitely not going to be normal looking,” Ms. McCarthy said, with the dramatic battles taking place on a small, intimate stage. There will also be a little bit of audience participation.
“Come and be a citizen of Rome,” she said.
Shakespeare for the Masses presents Julius Caesar on Friday, April 13 and Saturday, April 14 at 6 p.m. at the Pit Stop, Dukes County avenue, Oak Bluffs. Admission is free.