A tale of two murders: NAU collaborates with NYC company on ‘Caesar,’ ‘X’

William Shakespeare didn’t foreshadow the 1965 assassination of human rights activist Malcolm X in his 1599 play “Julius Caesar.” The two may have more in common than ending with death, though, and the Northern Arizona University Department of Theatre and New York City-based The Acting Company are inviting the Flagstaff community to find that out Feb. 10-11.

The two theatre organizations will collaborate to perform Shakespeare’s “Julius Caesar,” followed by Marcus Gardley’s new play “X” about the assassination of Malcolm X. Shakespeare’s well-known play about political intrigue and relationships provides a framework for Gardley to deepen the audience’s understanding of one of America’s most complex, compelling historical figures and explore the tumultuous landscape of ideology and activism in the 1960s.

It’s especially relevant as the all-black Acting Company cast is performing during Black History Month, with the Black Student Union, Ethnic Studies and Flagstaff Mayor Coral Evans participating as well.

The two-night collaboration also will provide NAU Theatre students the opportunity to work with professional actors, attend design and performance workshops and build relationships with equity and union artists from New York City. The performances are part of The Acting Company’s 2016-2017 tour.

“The connection with The Acting Company professionals is an extraordinary opportunity for our students,” says Kathleen McGeever, chairwoman of the NAU Department of Theatre. “Also, ‘X’ is a new play and it exposes our students to the development of new work on a professional level.”

“Julius Caesar” will be performed at 7:30 p.m. Feb. 10 and “X” will be performed at 7:30 p.m. Feb. 11 at the Clifford E. White Theatre on the NAU Flagstaff campus. Tickets, which range from $8 to $14, can be purchased at nau.edu/cto or by calling (928) 523-5661. For parking options, visit Parking and Shuttle Service’s webpage.

‘Julius Caesar’ by William Shakespeare
Tackling essential questions about the balance of ambition, personal loyalty and love of country, Shakespeare’s timeless political masterpiece remains relevant today. Through the story of “Julius Caesar,” a rising political star torn down by trusted allies, audiences witness the art of persuasion, the ugliness of backroom politics and the historical patterns we can’t stop repeating.

The Acting Company’s Devin Brain will direct this production of “Julius Caesar.” He previously directed Macbeth and went on tour as staff repertory director for “Hamlet,” “Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead,” “Of Mice and Men” and “As You Like It.”

‘X’ by Marcus Gardley
The assassination of Malcolm X—both the story learned in history class and illuminating details that have seldom been shared—is brought to vivid, lyrical life in award-winning writer Marcus Gardley’s new play.

Gardley is a multiple award-winning poet and playwright from West Oakland, California, whose short play “Desire Quenched by Touch” premiered in The Acting Company’s off-Broadway production of “Desire.” The New Yorker describes Gardley as “the heir to Garcia Lorca, Pirandello and Tennessee Williams.”

Ian Belknap, The Acting Company’s artistic director, brings this new work to life, having previously directed The Acting Company’s “A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court,” “Hamlet,” “The Comedy of Err

NAU Communications