York Circle presents Caesar and Cleopatra Sunday

picture of York's presentation of the play "Caesar and Cleopatra"

Back on the big screen one last time! George Bernard Shaw’s legendary wit turns political drama into sparkling comedy when veteran strategist Julius Caesar becomes mentor to the Cleopatra, the enchanting teenage queen of Roman-occupied Egypt.

A special high-definition video presentation of Caesar and Cleopatra, filmed before a live audience at the Stratford Festival, will be shown at York University in the Price Family Cinema, Accolade East, Keele campus this Sunday at 2pm.

Caesar and Cleopatra is the story of the occupation of one nation by another — and while it is set more than 2,000 years ago, it is surprisingly contemporary in its subject and its sharp sense of humour,” said Stratford artistic director Des McAnuff.

The 2008 Stratford Festival production of Caesar and Cleopatra stars Christopher Plummer as Caesar and Nikki James as Cleopatra, in a sumptuous and effective staging of Shaw’s play.

The play, which was written in 1898 by George Bernard Shaw, was first staged in 1901. Previous greats to play the lead roles include stage and film greats Laurence Olivier and Vivien Leigh, who played the title roles in repertory with Shakespeare’s Antony and Cleopatra in 1951 at London’s St James’s Theatre and later on Broadway.

Department of Theatre Professors Robert Fothergill and Phillip Silver will discuss Shaw’s provocative “take” on the brilliant Egyptian queen and the challenges of designing and directing plays on the unique Festival Theatre stage.

Fothergill is a playwright, critic and theatre historian. Fothergill was a long-time member of the English Department at York University’s Atkinson College before joining the Department of Theatre in the Faculty of Fine Arts 1994. He served as chair of the Theatre Department from 1994 to 1999.

Robert FothergillRobert Fothergill

His drama, Detaining Mr. Trotsky (Canadian Stage Company, Toronto, 1987), won a Chalmers Award and several Dora nominations. His most recent play is The Dershowitz Protocol, an examination of the ethics of torture in the context of the current “war against terror”. It was presented at the SummerWorks festival in 2003, received its American premiere in Rochester, New York, in June 2006, and was produced in a German translation in Bonn, Germany, in April 2008.

Phillip SilverSilver recently completed 10 years as the dean of York University’s Faculty of Fine Arts. He has taught stage design in York’s Department of Theatre since 1986.

Phillip Silver

His scenery, lighting and costume designs have been seen in close to 300 productions in Canadian theatres, including Stratford Festival, Shaw Festival, National Arts Centre, Canadian Opera Company, Grand Theatre, Canadian Stage Company, Tarragon Theatre, Manitoba Theatre Centre, Theatre New Brunswick, Vancouver Playhouse and Citadel Theatre, where he served as resident designer from 1967 to 1978.

This event is organized by the York Circle, a program that offers parents and families of York students, alumni, staff and members of the public an opportunity to hear leading York faculty speak about their ideas and their research. It is part of the York Circle’s Prestigious Performance series, which showcases world class concerts, theatre and opera, presented in high-definition video, with introductions by some of these professors. The York Circle is supported in part by York’s Alumni Office and print media sponsor Toronto Community News.

Tickets are still available and can be ordered online through the York Circle website, or by calling 416-736-5020.

Featured image of Plummer and James by David Hou for the Stratford Festival Theatre.