Shakespeare’s ‘Julius Caesar’ in a New York City Parking Lot

The second and final production this summer of The Drilling Company’s Shakespeare in the Park(ing) Lot will be “Julius Caesar,” directed by Hamilton Clancy (Artistic Director) July 29 to August 14, 2010. In an unusual adaptation, Shakespeare’s drama about the nature of ambition and politics is set in a contemporary urban school system.

Julius Caesar will be performed free in the municipal parking lot at the corner of Ludlow and Broome Streets, Manhattan, among cars and covered motorcycles (one is visible front right). Foreground: Ivory Aquino (Marc Antony), Hamilton Clancy (Caesar). Behind (LR): Marianna Caldwell, Selena Beretta (Cassius), Jarad Benn, Bill Green (Casca). Photo by Jonathan Slaff.

In Shakespeare’s “Julius Caesar,” a favorite for all ages, the commoners rejoice over Caesar’s triumph over Pompey while the patricians, fearing his irresistable ambition, conspire against him and enlist the noble Brutus to their cause with the manipulation of wily Cassius. After their plot is successful and Caesar is assasinated, Mark Antony incites the rabble against the conspirators with uncanny rhetorical skill, then allies with Octavius Caesar and Lepidus against Brutus and Cassius. Octavius’ army prevails and Cassius and Brutus are forced to accept defeat by falling on their own swords.

Selene Beretta (Cassius) and Bill Green (Casca). Photo by Jonathan Slaff.

Clancy explains where the idea came from “We talked about how we govern ourselves, through plurality or charisma. Is it individuals who lead or systems that work? Big government versus small government?” A big city’s school system seemed to be a suitable microcosm for a fresh look at the question.

Marc Antony (Ivory Aquino) discovers the body of Caesar (Hamilton Clancy). Photo by Jonathan Slaff

Rebecca Lord, (Costume Design), currently of NYU’s graduated design program, returns as designer to the Parking Lot for her third season, having previously designed The Drilling Company’s “”Measure for Measure,” “Midsummer Night’s Dream,” “Twelfth Night,” “FAITH,” “Atomic Farmgirl,” “HERO” and “JUSTICE, SECURITY, and REVENGE part 2.”

The cast features Selene Beretta, a company member of NY’s Amoralists Theatre Company and several past Drilling Company productions as Cassius. Ivory Aquino, a member of the Flea Theatre’s BATS and Leviathan Theatre group who appeared last summer as Isabella in “Measure for Measure,” plays Marc Antony. She is a cousin of former Philippine prime minister Corazon Aquino. Mark Jeter, who last appeared in the Parking Lot in “Measure for Measure,” will play Brutus. Brandon Riley, seen memorably in “Over the Line” at The Drilling Company this fall, plays Lucius. Bill Green, who appeared in “Measure for Measure” and “Much Ado about Nothing,” plays Casca. The cast also includes Bobby Plasencia, Brian D. Hills, Leila Okafor, Marianna Caldwell, Joann Sacco, Bill Green, Amanda C. Fuller and Jarad Benn.

The Drilling Company ( took over as producer of Shakespeare in the Park(ing) Lot seven years ago. [A history of Shakespeare in the Park(ing) Lot will be available soon on the Drilling Company website.] The troupe, founded in 1999, is also a prolific presenter of new works in its permanent home at 236 West 78th Street (one block south of the #1 train at 79th Street), where it nurtures and produces new works by emerging playwrights. The Drilling Company has developed and produced works by such well known playwrights as Will Eno, Brian Dykstra, C. Denby Swanson, Tom Strelich, Vincent Delaney, Eric Henry Sanders and Trish Harnetiaux. The company is led by Artistic Director Hamilton Clancy, who has been an actor in Coen Brothers “Burn After Reading” and Ridley Scott’s ” American Gangster” and recently appeared at Playwrights Horizons in “The Retributionists” by Daniel Goldfarb, directed by Leigh Silverman.

The pairing of “Love’s Labours Lost” and “Julius Caesar” for this year’s Shakespeare in the Park(ing) Lot was actually a thematic choice, not a marriage of convenience. Says Artistic Director Hamilton Clancy, “We thought it was a good time to explore two works about folks getting along–and not–in love and politics.”

Performances are Thursdays through Saturdays at 8:00 PM for both shows. Seating is on a first come first served basis, with audience members often arriving as early as 7:00 PM to secure a place. You are encouraged and welcome to bring your own chair. Once seats are gone, blankets are spread out.

This production is made possible with Funds from The New York State Council on the Arts and The Lower Manhattan Cultural Council.