There are countless ways of essaying the English language's greatest playwright, William Shakespeare. Arguably though, few do it more inventively — make that re-inventively — than the directors, writers, staging conceptualists and actors behind FringeArt's 2016 most divisive looks at the Bard: Romeo Castellucci's "Julius Caesar. Spared Parts" and Brett Bailey's "Macbeth."
Each director/writer with their own acting companies (Castellucci's Societas Raffaello Sanzio and Bailey's Third World Bunfight) see Shakespeare with fresh eyes and ears, to say nothing of a voice that's radical and experimental.
FringeArts boss Nick Stuccio is friendly with Castellucci and brought other challenging — even blasphemous — works from the Italian director to Philly's Fringe such as 2013's feces-and-blood-stained "On the Concept of the Face Regarding the Son of God" and its look at end-of-life issues.
"My favorite Italian man, whose work we love, has done it again with an approach, well, he riffs on Shakespearian tragedy and nobody does tragedy like Castellucci," says Stuccio, who goes on to discuss the boldest of the director's concepts for "Julius Caesar. Spared Parts." Considering the Shakespeare play's most powerful moment — when Marc Antony delivers the seminal funeral speech after the murder of his friend and mentor Julius Caesar — Castelucci does the most daring thing: He gives the speech to an actor with no vocal chords, one who had larynx removed due to cancer and must speak through a hole in his throat. "Leave it to Castelluci to entrust the most powerful speech in all of theater history to a man who cannot speak," says Stuccio. "Who better to understand Caesar's wounds than a man who can only communicate through a wound?"
Stuccio mentions that Castelluci's other touches for this "Caesar" involve monkeys, messages on the sides of horses and a character who delivers an everyman's speech with an endoscope up his nose and down his throat whose movement is projected onto a giant screen behind him. "No one ever dared to be that provocative," says Stuccio of Castelluci's "Julius Caesar."