Beware the Ides of March! Cincinnati Shakespeare Company actors return to Cincinnati Public Radio with an adaptation of Julius Caesar 7 p.m. Sunday.
This is their fourth radio production in the past year, since the coronavirus pandemic prevented theater performances.
"It was really important to us to continue delivering on our mission, and artistically all of us were champing at the bit to be able produce something again," says Jeremy Dubin, the group's creative education supervisor and long-time ensemble member. He adapted and directed A Midsummer Night's Dream, Romeo & Juliet, Julius Caesar and The War of the Worlds for WVXU.
"We have 10 actors who have done each of our radio productions. We've lovingly dubbed them 'The Pandemic Players.' "
Six of the actors were from the touring company who performed shows in parks and schools throughout the year before COVID-19.
"We created the scripts ourselves," Dubin says. "We started with our touring scripts, which are already cut down to about 90 minutes, and then had to find a way to trim out another 30 minutes or so."
He called the editing process "a really enjoyable puzzle, diving into these plays that we've worked with for so many years and considering them from a different angle -- figuring out what was essential to the story, what we could lose, what we could cover in a few sentences of narration. The inclusion of a narrator really unlocked a lot. It allowed us to connect and underscore important plot points, as well as convey any pivotal physical moments, such as the assassination of Caesar for instance. Apologies for the 2000-year-old spoiler!" says Dubin, who also was the Julius Caesar narrator.
The feedback has been so positive that the shows will go on after restrictions on gatherings are lifted, he says.
"We've had such tremendous fun doing them that we very much hope to keep on producing them, even post-pandemic. We have a Much Ado About Nothing in the works for April, and some more ideas brewing for after that, both Shakespeare and otherwise," he says.
The radio cast includes Marcus Anthony (Julius Caesar); Arrianna Chai (Marcus Brutus); Colleen Dougherty (Gaius Cassius); Abigail Nakken (Marc Antony); Lennon Hu (Caska/Soothsayer); Angelique Archer (Decius/Portia); Brian Phillips (Cinna/Octavius); Sara Clark (Calpurina/Lucius); Cal Harris (Lepidus); Dubin (narrator); and the ensemble as the Plebians.
Julius Caesar was recorded at the Cincinnati Shakespeare Company's Otto M. Budig Theater, 1195 Elm St., in Over-the-Rhine. Kevin Semancik did the editing and sound design. WVXU's Stephen Baum was the broadcast coordinator and sound engineer for Cincinnati Public Radio.
Julius Caesar can be heard 7 p.m. Sunday, March 14, on WVXU (91.7), WMUB-FM (88.5), online at wvxu.org and through the WVXU mobile app.
John Kiesewetter's reporting is independent. Cincinnati Public Radio only edits his articles for style and grammar.