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Bradford College staff to appear in the Royal Shakespeare Company’s Julius Caesar

Bradford College staff member to take to the stage for the Royal Shakespeare Company’s (RSC) forthcoming production of the political thriller, Julius Caesar.

Six people from Bradford, including a Bradford College member of staff will act as a ‘Community Chorus’, appearing alongside the show’s professional acting company on stage at the Alhambra Theatre between Tuesday 2nd to Saturday 6th May.

The group is made up of community leaders working for or volunteering with organisations such as Bradford Nightstop, which provides emergency accommodation for young people.

Esther Wilkey works in the ESOL (English for Speakers of Other Languages) department at Bradford College assisting 16-18-year-old refugee, asylum seeker, and immigrant students. Esther works closely with the Royal Shakespeare Company and the Alhambra Theatre to develop language skills and build students’ confidence. As well as gaining experience in performance, it is hoped that the group will share the skills they gain from being in the show with their respective community groups.

Directed by Atri Banerjee, this production of Julius Caesar will explore questions such as gender in leadership and power, and the Chorus will represent identities that have been marginalised, either at different points in history or in our world today. The Chorus will be integrated into various musical elements of the production and appear as an otherworldly presence alongside characters in the play, such as the Soothsayer, who famously warns Caesar to ‘beware the Ides of March’. They will also serve to heighten the play’s status as a tragedy as well as a political thriller.

The group is currently meeting weekly with Emma Bradnum, who is acting as the local Musical Director for the show at the Alhambra Theatre, and Julia Smith to explore how to use their voices to express emotion, try out different vocal techniques, and learn more about the world of the play.

The show’s Associate Director, Lucy Waterhouse and Associate Music Director, Helen Washington, will visit the group at some point during their rehearsals. The show’s composer, Jasmin Kent Rodgman and Music Director, Lindsey Miller are also closely involved in shaping the role of the Chorus.

When the RSC arrives at the Alhambra Theatre, the group will rehearse with the professional actors and wider creative team, integrating the group into the production.

The Community Chorus comprises: Fiona MacLean (Teacher), Julia Smith (Bradford Theatres Learning coordinator and Theatre Practitioner), Anne Mackay (Trustee and the safeguarding lead with Bradford Nightstop), Esther Wilkey (Bradford College, ESOL), Carolyn Eden (Part Bradford-based Displace Yourself Theatre ensemble) and Georgina Jovanovic (co-founder of a local initiative called Pain into Power).

The Alhambra Theatre is one of the RSC’s partner theatres. Working with schools and members of the community in the Bradford area, the two organisations are committed to making Shakespeare and theatre as accessible as possible to everyone. This opportunity to perform with the RSC comes after other local people took part in a production of Henry VI: Rebellion in 2022 in the Royal Shakespeare Theatre in Stratford-upon-Avon.

The performance is taking place at the Alhambra Theatre, Bradford between Tuesday 2 – Saturday 6 May 2023. There is a captioned performance on Thu 4 May 2023 – 7:30pm and a signed performance: Fri 5 May 2023 – 7.30pm, and an audio described performance: Saturday 6 May 2023 – 2pm.

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