The exhalations whizzing in the air / Give so much light that I may read by them (Julius Caesar, II.i.46-47)
Today’s guest post comes from Jim Hunter, the lighting designer for Julius Caesar. Jim is a professor of theatrical design at the University of South Carolina as well as a professional designer.
Jim and director Robert Richmond collaborated last year on the Folger Theatre production of Richard III, casting the stage in eerie jewel tones and menacing shadows.
For Julius Caesar, one of Shakespeare’ greatest tragedies, Jim is also reunited with Richard III set designer Tony Cisek and costume designer Mariah Hale to bring a world of ancient myth and magic to our own time.
Below are some of Jim’s thoughts on his design of Julius Caesar along with a sneak peek at two of his lighting storyboards.
“All of us on the Julius Caesar production team have a shared appreciation that in Shakespeare the real power lies in the language. We are constantly working together to make sure that our stage imagery is inspired by his poetic imagery in a way that relates his themes to modern audiences. In spite of the play’s turbulent exploration of power, rivalries, fate, ritual and honor it is often, quite wrongly, considered unemotional and colorless.
This potent sulfuric play combined with Robert Richmond’s insightful contemporary vision and Tony Cisek’s evocative sepulcher like memorial setting provide ample opportunity for the lighting to help fuel the story’s essential elements.
Prevalent inspiration for lighting imagery incudes; foreboding omen, violently providential storms, bloody ritualistic assassination, smoke and flames, gruesome apparitions and the enraged blaze of civil discord and war. Enlarging and collapsing the mood and physical space with lighting will be essential to support Shakespeare’s contrast of the public persona verses the private conflicted individual as well as problems of seeing and perception that run throughout the story.
Working from clues within the text, our hope is to establish a broad canvas illuminating the relevance of Julius Caesar’s vivid insights into human behavior playing out in our currently turbulent and fractured political world.”
We hope you will join us at the Folger Theatre to see Jim’s work. Single tickets for Julius Caesar are now on sale, as well as tickets to the other two plays in our regular season, Schiller’s Mary Stuart and Stoppard’s Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead. Our two-week-only run of King Lear from Shakespeare’s Globe continues through September 21st and there are a few tickets left. We look forward to seeing you!