Director of Julius Caesar discusses upcoming The Questors Theatre production of the Shakespeare classic

By Cesar Medina

24th Apr 2024 | Local News

William Shakespare's Julius Caesar is a tragedy that explores the themes of ambition, betrayal and the assassination of the Roman dictator (credit: Carla Evans).
William Shakespare's Julius Caesar is a tragedy that explores the themes of ambition, betrayal and the assassination of the Roman dictator (credit: Carla Evans).

Experienced theatre actor and director, Mark Oldknow, is bringing Ealing residents William Shakespeare's classic, Julius Caesar, to life at The Questors Theatre this weekend.  

Oldknow did not have a traditional path into directing like most – he was thrown into it by chance after his classmates at LAMDA needed to raise funds for a few student's tuition fees through a play and they needed a director. 

"The consensus was that we should probably do something theatrical, as we were at a drama school. 

"And everyone seemed to think that I should direct it, so we did three Pinter one act plays," he recalls. 

Despite initially enrolling at the art school as a drama student, Oldknow explains that the institution exposed him to highly skilled directors, allowing him to appreciate the differences between acting and directing. 

He says: "I find I just like directing. It's a totally different skill set and a different craft to acting which was fundamentally what my training was in. 

"But I suppose the advantage of going to somewhere like LAMDA is that you're exposed to a number of different directors, all seasoned professionals, so you learn a lot just by watching what they're doing and then you put your own spin on things."

Shakespeare's Julius Caesar shows this weekend at The Questors Theatre (credit: The Questors Theatre).

With acting taking the 'back seat' in recent years, Oldknow is now engulfed in directing plays, which takes him to The Questors Theatre with Shakespeare's Julius Caesar. 

The director intends to bring what the theatre house calls 'a modern reimagining of Shakespeare's classic,' where Oldknow will tell the story of how Caesar returns to Rome in triumph and is set on tearing the Republic apart in a way that captivates present day audiences.  

Oldknow says: "It's quite funny when you talk to people like, 'Oh, I like my Shakespeare done traditionally,' but what you actually end up, if you delve into that, is they like the Shakespeare they saw when they were children." 

"Of course, in Shakespeare's day, most of the plays would have been done in contemporary costume. It would have been done in Elizabethan costume and I think anything that gets in the way of audiences accessing the plays should be removed." 

Admittedly, Oldknow expects this production to serve as a personal test as he has never done Julius Caesar before, but that it will still bring out the best of him as a director. 

"It's a Shakespeare I haven't seen very often before, In fact, I've only ever seen one production of it, which was some years ago, which was the all-female Donmar production with Harriet Walter."  

"So, it sets up a series of challenges for me - I like a challenge as a director." 

To find out more and to book tickets for The Questors Theatre's production of Julius Caesar showing from 26 April to 4 May, click here.

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