By Bobinec, Greg on November 1, 2019.
The University of Lethbridge Drama Department is presenting the bloody, violent and dark production of William Shakespeare’s “Titus Andronicus.”
The university’s adaptation of “Titus Andronicus,” directed by Jay Whitehead, is set in a post-apocalyptic and futuristic world which tells the story of Titus, a general in the Roman army who seeks out endless revenge with Tamora, queen of the Goths. The play is one of Shakespeare’s first written, which was originally published in the late 1500s.
“This show is one of Shakespeare’s first plays, it’s his bloodiest play and it is about a Roman general who has just came back from a 10-year war where he is victorious,” says Zoe Bracken, who plays Titus. “He decides to give up his power to one of Caesar’s sons which is his ultimate downfall because Caesar’s son marries his enemy and this ultimately ends up unravelling a bunch of events that ends up with loss of family members and dishonour of family members. It is a play that is full of power struggles, political conflict, family loyalty, loss, pain, murder, lies, rape and cannibalism.”
“Titus Andronicus” isn’t a typical play for performance companies and institutions to mount because of its graphic content and bloody materials, but through the adaptation the cast of 26, along with the crew, found the play exciting to create.
“We are in rehearsals every night for about four hours and all the actors have been so committed and so excited because it is Shakespeare’s bloodiest play and his first one,” says Bracken. “That is why we want to do a really good job because it’s not a play that is done very often because it is so bloody, people usually shy away, so we were really excited to take part in something that doesn’t usually get done.”
Bringing the themes of the show into a new perspective, director Whitehead decided to make the call for gender swapping of roles, such as making Titus a woman. The gender reversal makes the centuries-old play themes have a new face and understanding, and Bracken says she is excited to see how the audience reacts to their creation.
“I have never been in a Shakespeare play before. I’ve done monologues, but when I originally auditioned, the roles were not gender swapped, so I didn’t know there was a possibility of being Titus, so when the cast list came out I was really stoked,” says Bracken. “It’s really cool that our director Jay Whitehead has decided to gender swap it because it gives the audience a perspective of the power struggle and how gender can play into that.”
“Titus Andronicus” runs from Nov. 5 to 9, with show times starting at 7:30 p.m., at University Theatre. Ticket prices are $18, $13 for seniors and alumni, and $12 for students. Tickets can be purchased at the University Box Office, or online at uLethbridge.ca/tickets.
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