DECATUR — More than 400 years after it was written, William Shakespeare's play "Julius Caesar" stands the test of time.

“It is always relevant,” said the play’s director Alex Miller. “It is more of the politics of greed.”

The Millikin University cast will present its adaptation of the play Oct. 4-7 in Shilling Hall’s Albert Taylor Theatre. The cast remains true to the classic tale of pride, guilt and power, but they make the play their own as well.

“There is room for evaluations and alterations,” Miller said of the play, which tells the tale of Roman leader Julius Caesar's assassination ("Beware the Ides of March") in a plot of political intrigue and jealousy among politicians, rivals and friends ("Et tu Brute?").

A cast of about 20 actors will be on stage. With the Millikin students will be an actor from Shakespeare Corrected, a School of Theatre and Dance program that brings incarcerated and disadvantaged people into a theater production experience with students.

“We have incredible individual who is doing a fantastic job,” Miller said. “He is an active part of the ensemble.”

Robert Garrett, a tall articulate actor, was asked to join the cast after members of Shakespeare Corrected worked with him in May on Macon Resources Inc.'s production of “A Midsummer Night’s Dream,” another Shakespeare play.

Sherri Rutherford, coordinator of curriculum at MRI, has witnessed  Garrett’s excitement while preparing for the play.

“He is thrilled,” she said. “He likes to talk about it.”

Garrett has enjoyed working on the play, but has a piece of advice for Caesar: “If he would have listened to my character, he would have still been alive."

Garrett will be on stage performing as three characters. His main character did not have a name, so Garrett was allowed to name him Stretch, a nickname given to him at MRI.

Miller has encouraged Garrett throughout the rehearsals.

“He said we are the easiest crew he has had to work with,” Garrett said. “That’s because we listen to what he has to say.”

Miller understands the topics in the play are still relevant today, but he does not associate the story with the current political climate.

“We didn’t have an agenda,” he said. “We have no desire to be political.”

The cast tells the story of “Julius Caesar” using no specific time, place or gender. The director altered the primary characters, who are usually men, into women.

“It affects the production, but it is nebulous,” Miller said.

The play may have the Millikin touch, but it also raises a discussion debated by every generation.

“Those in power, are they worthy of their position,” Miller asked. “It is our responsibility to ask.”

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Contact Donnette Beckett at (217) 421-6983. Follow her on Twitter: @donnettebHR


"Together Decatur" Columnist and Food and Drink Reporter

“Together Decatur” columnist and food and drink reporter for Lee Enterprises Central Illinois.

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