Although the date was more appropriate for A Midsummer Night’s Dream and the weather for The Tempest, the citizens of Sidlesham gathered in the wooded copse at the bottom of the Sidlesham School playground to see an edited version of Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar, put on under the aegis of the Sidlesham Community Association. This rural setting took the place of ancient Rome. This feature of this production was not the only one requiring the audience’s imagination. Though there were no “proud hoofs” as in Henry V, we had to imagine children as members of an adult mob and women as the scheming male conspirators. But, no matter – “the play’s the thing”. Because of the various commitments of people in the cast, the afternoon’s rehearsal had been the first opportunity for all to be ‘on stage’ at the same time. Despite the various understandable imperfections, the drama still came through. Theatre is an opportunity to witness the decisions of others and their consequences, and so consider the question – “And what would you have done?”. Caesar puts aside the advice of his wife and is assassinated, and the noble Brutus is unable to ride the tiger let loose by his joining the assassination of Caesar. We were able to witness Mark Anthony’s oratory swaying the affections of the mob, thereby moving power away from the conspirators.
All credit to the actors for taking on the challenge of learning the lines, (adults -Hannah Baggott, Jane and David Blackford, Mary Coales, Gloria Jupp, David MacDonald, Ali Merrett and Diana Pound; and the children – Evi, Franki, Kristina, Lewis, Lucie, Maggy, Olive and Tilly), for the prompter/stage hand (Sandie Walker), sound effects (Lewis), to the producer (Diana Pound) for conceiving and delivering the project, for the school and the parents in encouraging the children in an otherwise adult event. Afterwards there was an excellent barbecue and bar which involved another group of people (David Blackford, Eddie Jupp, Corinna and Richard Hall, Dawn Lawson, Zena MacDonald, Julia and Dudley Pound, Franck and Marilyn Sharp, Others, Ebony and Emily, could not be there on the night. Flaming June it might not have been, but the SCA is to be congratulated for being initiating and carrying through this project that involved so many people in a village activity. Thanks too to the school.