15th February 1998


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Staging Julius Caesar? There is a reason say the boys (and girls) of Hong Kong Bank, who maintain that the psychology of Julius Caesar will be vivisected, when the play goes on the boards a week from now at the Wendt.

Kamardeen's high-tech Caesar (which was distinguished for side effects, er, I mean special effects) was one reason for the Bank to come up with the unedited original, says Hiran Perera, one of the conceptualisers of the bank's effort to stage Caesar.

The Bank puts on Caesar with the fervent belief that the plays basics "hold good for all time''. Says one senior member of the management that "Julius Caesar happens in families,'' and "maybe in the management hierarchies of banks."

Though it appears that Caesar never ceases, the untraditional cast promises to make Caesar something more than a toga party, and a celebration of ego. Political and psychological lessons apart, Julius Caesar can be resurrected "as the test of time has vindicated'' That's one thing Hong Kong bank wants to prove.

In an improvised performance at a press conference, two young bank employees who play Cassius and Brutus, made an attempt to convey a scene from Caesar. There is a zeal that Shakespeare would have liked. – (See box)

Those who sponsor the Caesar

By Asiff Hussein

For the first time in a local bank's history, Hongkong Bank will be staging 'Julius Caesar' at the Lionel Wendt Theatre from February 19 to 22 .

The play is produced, directed and performed entirely by the staff of Hongkong Bank. The timing of the play has been intended to coincide with Sri Lanka's Golden Jubilee Independence celebrations.

According to Co-Director of the play, Hiran Perera, the Rs. 700,000 production is a "powerful human drama based on the classical version and will be employing highly lucid language in the best tradition of Roman rhetoric."

"The performance will be revolving around persuasive language, psychology and such political themes as assassination and the multi-faceted character of leaders, which is especially relevant in today's context''.

The play is an abridged version of the classical drama and will run for two hours followed by a short synopsis.

The play will be performed in two parts. The first shows the rise of the conspiracy against Caesar, upto the assassination and its immediate aftermath as Anthony incites the citizens to revenge.

The second part shows the formation of the triumvirate comprising Anthony, Octavius and Lepidus, the uneasy alliance of Brutus and Cassius, and the battle in which Caesar's spirit revenges itself against Brutus.

The main actors are Dineth Nanayakkara (Caesar), Hiran Perera (Anthony), Bennett Olegasegram (Cassius) and Kenneth de Zilva (Brutus).

Perera noted that all actors in the play had acting experience behind them, having acted at some time or other.

He pointed out that some of the actors had even been Shakespearean award winners.

Tickets are priced at Rs. 350, 300, 250 and 100. All proceeds from ticket sales are for charity, while the costs of the play will be borne by the bank without any external sponsorships.

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