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The New Victory Blog is a place to learn more about New York's theater for families and the shows we produce. Find out what we do and what we're passionate about—exploring the arts as a family.

Use Julius Caesar as an inspiration to discuss the nature of leadership, costume design and Shakespearean meter. For each show in the season, we post a new Family Activity. You can find all of our past Family Activities on our blog and at Pinterest.com/NewVictory.  


What Shakespearean Leader are You?

There are many leaders in the play, Julius Caesar. Take our quiz to find out which character your leadership style most resembles!

 

To-Ga or Not To-Ga

That is the question...for a costume designer. Shakespeare is one of the most produced playwrights in the classical theater canon. One of the reasons Shakespeare’s plays are produced so often is because of the flexibility and artistic license directors and designers can take with the classic, well-known scripts. In this activity, look at how the costume designer chose to dress the actors and consider how you would design for your own version of Julius Caesar

Step One: Look at select costume sketches by Jennifer Moeller and Christopher Metzger from ACT I of The Acting Company’s Julius Caesar

Act I
Step Two: Look at select costume sketches from ACT II of Julius Caesar.

Act II
Step Three: Discuss these questions with your family:
  • What do you notice in the costumes from Act I?
  • What do you notice in the costumes from Act II?
  • When you compare the costumes from Act I and Act II, what do you think happens between acts? Why?
Step Four: Read the synopsis of Julius Caesar

Step Five: If you were to direct and design a version of Julius Caesar, where would it be set and what would the characters wear? 

The Beat Goes On

Most of Shakespeare’s plays are written in verse, which was normal for English drama at his time. Different playwrights would write using different meters for their verse. The one Shakespeare chose is called iambic pentameter. In this activity, hear and feel the beat of iambic pentameter in different ways. 

Clap It! 
Do a series of five soft claps, and then repeat it a few times.
  • Clap-Clap-Clap-Clap-Clap
Now do a series of five hard claps, and repeat it a few times.
  • Clap-Clap-Clap-Clap-Clap
Now combine those soft and hard claps into sets of two and repeat a few times.
  • Clap-Clap Clap-Clap Clap-Clap Clap-Clap Clap-Clap
This rhythm is iambic pentameter. Each pair of claps is an iamb, and there are five pairs!

Gallop It! 
One of the reasons Shakespeare chose iambic pentameter for the verse lines in his plays is that it has a driving beat that moves the actionforward. To feel this energy, try galloping in place as you speak the meter. Like this!

How-To Gallop

Gallop around as you speak, keeping the words connected to the steps.
  • Ta-Tum Ta-Tum Ta-Tum Ta-Tum

Suit the Meter to the Word 
Now try to connect the meter we have learned to verse lines from Julius Caesar. In Act 1, Scene 2, Cassius is trying to convince Brutus that Caesar has grown too powerful and dangerous, and must be removed from power. He argues that "I was born free as Caesar. So were you." Try that line in your normal speaking voice.
  
Pay attention to the meter. Speak the line again, stressing every second syllable. How does that sound?
  • I was born free as Caesar. So were you.
Now look at a larger section of text from later in that same Cassius speech, in which he argues that if Caesar is becoming too dangerous to Rome, it is because people like himself and Brutus are letting it happen. He says:
  • Men at some time are masters of their fates:
    The fault, dear Brutus, is not in our stars
    But in ourselves, that we are underlings.
Try that speech a few times to see what words you naturally emphasize.
Now, try using the meter!
  • Men at some time are masters of their fates:
    The fault dear Brutus is not in our stars
    But in ourselves, that we are underlings.
Discuss the following questions as a family:
  • What words does the meter seem to suggest are most important?
  • What do you notice about the words or syllables that were stressed? 
  • How does the meter improve the line or change your understanding of it?
BONUS: Stressing every second syllable, feel out these famous Shakespearean lines. For bonus points, pick a line you like, and try to speak it with a gallop, moving around the room!
  • But, soft! what light through yonder window breaks? (Romeo & Juliet 2.2.2)
  • A horse! A horse! My kingdom for a horse! (Richard III 5.4.7) 
  • If music be the food of love, play on. (Twelfth Night 1.1.1)
  • Macbeth! Macbeth! Macbeth! Beware Macduff. (Macbeth 4.1.73)
  • Two households, both alike in dignity (Romeo & Juliet P.1)
FINAL HINT
Sometimes really important lines in a play break the rhythm on purpose, to catch the audience’s ear. "To be, or not to be, that is the question" from Hamlet is one of those—the final iamb is left incomplete, the final syllable missing to emphasize the unknowable nature of the question. Listen for lines like this when you watch Julius Caesar.

Family Activities
We invite you to deepen your understanding of the performing arts with our Public Engagement Activites, Arts Express and Talk-Backs!
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Posted by Beth Henderson

The New Victory Theater launched the New Victory Usher Corps the day the theater opened to provide paid employment, job training, academic support, mentorship and an introduction to the performing arts for over 50 young New Yorkers each year. Since then, the program has provided over 400,000 hours of paid employment to over 500 NYC teens from across the city. Find out how the young people in your life can apply to be a part of this award-winning program!

All season long, we'll be featuring young people from our Usher Corps in our New Vic Bills and here on the New Victory Blog. Today we're talking to third-year usher John Deloach from East New York, Brooklyn. 
 

John DeloatchWhat has been your favorite show at the New Vic?
Cuba Vibra! It helped me connect with Cuban and Latino culture by giving me the opportunity to learn rhumba and mambo. I finally gained some rhythm!

The thing I like most about being an usher is…
The community that the managers and ushers have cultivated over the past few years. It's a very supportive space where I can grow both as an individual and an employee.

My dream job would be...
I want to manage my own urban farm for the queer, black and Latino community called "A Sanctuary for Wild Colors," which would also double as an art exhibition site. I believe in order to become more independent as a people both culturally and economically we need a space where we can recreate our image in a positive light while providing resources. "A Sanctuary for Wild Colors" would serve as a space for healing, learning and connection.

My love of theater started…
When I saw a video of Into the Woods in the first grade.

Who inspires you?
The Dalai Lama and Tupac Shakur. The Dalai Lama inspires me to be compassionate to everyone and to remember that all people are connected. Tupac showed me the importance of speaking my truth and honoring my roots.

What was your favorite story as a kid?
My favorite story was Poppy: A Tale from Dimwood Forest. The hero of the story's a valiant mouse who helped out his friends. When I was a kid, all of my favorite stories had animals in them. 

What’s your favorite subject in school?
My favorites are Urban Farming, Poetry and Art. I like these subjects because they allow for freedom of expression and healing from the toxicity of life in modern society.

What’s your favorite thing to do when you’re not at work?
I like having night picnics with my friends, hiking and being in green spaces.

What’s your favorite NYC hangout or neighborhood?
Brooklyn Bridge Pier, Gantry Plaza, Prospect Park and Brooklyn Botanical Garden are my top picks. These places are special to me because I love being out in green open spaces. They give me a place to decompress and have fun with my friends.

Describe your dream vacation
Going on a retreat with my friends.

 
New Victory Thumb Want to learn more about The New Victory Theater Usher Program? Take a look here!

 
Posted by Beth Henderson
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