From the 2014-2015 Season:
Playing May 29, 2015 to June 14, 2015
$15 General Admission Preview Thursday May 28
Forced into the Senate by his overbearing mother, the Achilles-like Coriolanus does nothing to hide his disdain for democracy, which works against him as Rome’s leader. His citizens are hungry; his Senate peers are disloyal. Eventually banished by his own people, this God of War does the only thing he knows to do: lead his own enemy’s army to kill the very people he serves. Shakespeare’s tale of extreme betrayal is also one of his bloodiest and most political tragedies.
Featuring Chris Kayser as Cominius and Heidi Cline McKerley as Volumnia
A part of The Shakespeare Evolution Series!
Join the cast and crew members for a lively Question and Answer session on Sunday after the show!
PLEASE NOTE: THERE IS NO LATE SEATING FOR THIS SHOW.
Read the Plot Synopsis
Caius Marcius, arrogant patrician, loathes the common people, the hungry plebeians of Rome, who return his hate. He shows so much personal bravery in the defeat of the Volscians, led by Tullus Aufidius, that he is given the name of Coriolanus (from the town of Corioli, the Volscian stronghold) and, in Rome, is chosen as a candidate for the consulship. Detesting the obligatory display of humility in public, he carries it out with contempt, though the Tribunes of the People are in venomous opposition.
Accusing him of being a traitor to the Roman people, they urge the plebeians to demand his death. At length he goes into exile (“There is a world elsewhere”) and seeks his enemy Aufidius who, at Antium, is planning a fresh attack. News of this deeply disturbs the Roman citizens; Coriolanus, advancing as a general of the Volscians, remains obdurate until he yields to the pleading of his mother, wife and son, and prepares to make a treaty of peace. Aufidius, who has been bitterly jealous, charges him before the Volscian Senate with betraying the cause, and he is stabbed to death. “Struck with sorrow”, Aufidius orders the body to be taken up; “He shall have a noble memory.”
-The Pocket Companion to Shakespeare’s Plays by J C Trewin
Directed by Drew Reeves
I have spent 22 years of my life focused on the works of Shakespeare. The question does come up whether it is time to focus on something different. How much more can be gleaned from 400 year old plays?
As I have become more intimate with the text of CORIOLANUS over the past several months once again there’s amazement in the discovery just how relevant Shakespeare can be to the world around me. At the beginning the poor are claiming they’re not getting their fair share. The rich are claiming that to get more the poor should be doing their fair share. The poor are claiming there’s a surplus of food so everyone could have the same amount. The rich are claiming there’s not enough for everyone to have the same amount or they will run out completely. The truth appears somewhere in the middle of the two extremes but neither side will give an inch towards understanding the other’s point of view.
As a step towards a solution the citizens are given the opportunity to elect representatives to serve as their voice in the government which they judge to be oppressive. The unavoidable catch-22 is that these representatives then must become a part of the government the citizens judge as oppressive. To maintain their place the representatives must put their own interests ahead of the citizens they are supposed to be serving.
Take the paragraphs above out of context and they could be taken as opinions on the current state of our country rather than the sociopolitical situation behind a Shakespearean play.
The puzzle for me was the character of Caius Martius, who receives the title “Coriolanus” during the course of the play. I could not find a connection with this great warrior and savior of his country who seemingly holds a lot of contempt for those who do not serve their country. At some point the idea of Coriolanus as a soldier having emotional difficulties adjusting to life in society, even to violent and self-destructive extremes, connected to what I was hearing on the news about Chris Kyle, both the trial of his killer and the film based on his life.
Many have stated in various ways that Shakespeare understood and wrote about every aspect of the human condition. I do believe in this play Shakespeare does show an understanding of the psychological effects war has not only on the soldier himself but also on those around him. He is confused by the mixed messages from a society that at the same time shows both appreciation and condemnation toward those who commit acts of violence in the name of their country.
These are connections I’ve made. You may not see them and find your own. Shakespeare tapped so many universal truths not limited to personal experience or the time period they were written. Teenagers still commit suicide. People still murder for power, prejudice, and jealousy. Being in love still causes people to do silly things.
There’s so much more to be found here. I’ll stick with it a while longer.
Act One 85 min / Act Two 75 min
May 28-June 14, 2015
Caius Marcius, afterwards Caius Marcius Coriolanus – Jonathan Horne
Titus Lartius, General against the Volscians – Vinnie Mascola
Cominius, General against the Volscians – Chris Kayser*
Menenius Agrippa, friend to Coriolanus – Sam R. Ross*
Sicinius Velutus, Tribune of the People – Kathryn Lawson
Junius Brutus, Tribune of the People- Tony Larkin
Volumnia, mother to Coriolanus – Heidi Cline McKerley
Virgilia, wife to Coriolanus – Kirstin Calvert
Valeria, friend to Virgilia – Kelly Criss
Tullus Aufidius, General of the Volscians – Jacob York
Adrian, a Volscian- Antonia Le Che
Roman Senators – Nicholas Faircloth, J. Tony Brown*
Volscian Soldiers- Stephen Ruffin, Ralph del Rosario
Ensemble (Citizens, Soldiers, Servants, Messengers)– Heidi Cline McKerley, Sam R. Ross*, Chris Kayser*, Jacob York, Tony Larkin, Kirstin Calvert, Kelly Criss, Vinnie Mascola, Antonia LaChe, Stephen Ruffin, Ralph del Rosario, J. Tony Brown*, Nicholas Faircloth, Trey York
*Member of Actors’ Equity Association, the Union of Professional Actors and Stage Managers in the United States
Bardometer RatingHow difficult is this Shakespearean play to grasp? On a scale of 1 to 10.
What does rating this mean?
These plays are extremely passionate and heavy on religious, historical and/or political content. The language is complex and the themes are dark. We provide a synopsis in the Playbill for these plays which will explain any historical or political elements you may need to know. There may be increased violence, gore and sexuality (though there is never any nudity). If we feel a show contains a plethora of Graphic Elizabethan Poetry we will put that disclaimer in the blurb about the show
Note for all plays: The performers of The Atlanta Shakespeare Company are specially trained to make Shakespeare’s text and intention clear, no matter the plot or the subject matter. They know precisely how to get to the emotional core of each line, each moment, each scene. We promise you will understand everything! Leave the heavy lifting to us!