‘For this time I will leave you’

3rd June 2012

We left Stratford today having completed all our filming for our Royal Shakespeare Company Julius Caesar. And now we have a quite extraordinarily short time to bring it all together in the edit. I can’t confirm exactly when the BBC Four transmission will be, but it is highly likely to be before the end of this month. As you may already know, we filmed most of this new Royal Shakespeare Company production on location a month or so ago. Then for the last few days we set up camp in the backstage right of the Royal Shakespeare Theatre to film just two main scenes, together with the very end of the play, from the stage. We did a camera rehearsal on Friday, and then yesterday we shot the relevant parts of both the matinee and the evening performance – and pretty remarkable it was too.

Our aim was to capture these scenes in a way that is visually distinctive and different from standard auditorium shooting. In part, we want to see what it is possible to achieve in original ways in the theatre, and of course we also want to make something that will cut with the very strong images that our director of photography Steve Lawes and the rest of the crew conjured up in our location of Oriental City. And I hope we have done that – certainly what we watched on the monitors suggested that we might well have done. But because we were not mixing it live, we still have to edit the footage from the three F35 digital cameras in the auditorium, the XD CAM ‘news camera’ on stage, and also a small automatic digital camera that we mounted high above the stage.

Apart from all of our work, it was fascinating to get a glimpse behind the scenes of major theatre show like this – to watch the actors warming up, to see the last minute preparation that many of them do moments before going on, and to realise how complex are the costume changes and make-up adjustments. Perhaps every show is different, but backstage at the RST last night the overall mood was very relaxed, but with moments of intense concentration and focus. It was great to be part of that for a couple of evenings.

In other news, there is an extensive preview feature about Julius Caesar by, yes, Ed Caesar in today’s Sunday Times. But I cannot link to it because it is behind the paywall. And finally, here is a short RSC compilation of responses to the production by audience members…

Image: Cyril Nri as Cassius and Paterson Joseph as Brutus; stage production photo by Kwame Lestrade/RSC.

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