“I grant I am a woman”

A review of the MTA quickie Julius Caesar

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The Tuesday before Thanksgiving Break, some of the women of the Muhlenberg Theatre Association put up an all-female production of Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar. The reading was put up as an MTA quickie, which is a production put together by students over a short period of time. Put together mainly by Sophia Richter ’19 and Julia Baker ‘19, this reading featured several women on campus from different class years and explored the relationship between Julius Caesar and gender.

This is an example of the work that students can create when they seek out opportunities for themselves. Baker had finished her mainstage production, Machinal, early in the semester, and Richter wasn’t working on anything in particular, which allowed them the space to explore this idea that they had. Not only did they explore the possibility, they took it all the way to a full reading, performing it for students and faculty. “It was really rewarding getting to work on a production with my close friends and create something on our own terms outside of the traditional structure of Muhlenberg theatre. It was a very collaborative process and it was great to get to be a part of that with such incredibly talented actors and artists,” said Richter. Baker took it upon herself to cut the script and organize the rehearsals. The Muhlenberg Theatre Association has made productions like this possible, constantly supporting student writing, directing and overall ideas. This is an example of an organization run by students, for students, and it provides a space for unbridled exploration of theatre.

The final reading was striking. Seeing a dozen women explore gender and power so gracefully through Shakespeare’s language was an incredibly unique experience. They created a world where society was run by women alone. From the heads of government to the pageboys, every single participant in this reading was a woman, which forced the audience to think about what gender means in the context of the play and in theatre as a whole. This reading challenged the way that Shakespeare has been read and performed in the past. The government in Ancient Rome was run by men, as was much of Shakespeare’s work in its prime, making this flip all the more meaningful.

Muhlenberg students create the work they want to see. When the department sees students putting up challenging, exciting and unique work, they are opened up to what the students want to be working on. The process of creating and putting up a piece that you are passionate about with a message that’s important was really rewarding for these ladies, and it’s something that everyone should explore at some point during their college experience.

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