After 20 years of immersing himself in the world of Shakespearean theater, Nigel Gore freely admits that he occasionally looks for a break. But not this summer.
“Shakespeare can be quite demanding, and sometimes I do have an appetite for something different,” said Gore, who is playing the title role in the Shakespeare & Company production of “Julius Caesar,” opening Friday and running through Aug. 30 at the Elayne P. Bernstein Theatre in Lenox, Massachusetts.
“But I wouldn’t have it any other way. It’s so lovely to have that language in your mouth. It never gets boring.”
Shakespeare & Company founder Tina Packer is directing the production, which also stars Jason Asprey as Cassius, James Udom as Marc Antony and Eric Tucker as Brutus. A total of seven actors portray multiple roles in this political thriller about conspiracy and betrayal, a story that Shakespeare wrote in 1599 based on the actual events surrounding (spoiler alert!) Caesar’s murder in 44 B.C.
“This is a fascinating play, but if you’re looking for a good guy it’s really hard to say,” said Gore, who grew up in a small town along the east coast of Great Britain, where on a clear day you could see France across the English Channel.
WHERE: Elayne P. Bernstein Theatre, Shakespeare & Company, 70 Kemble St., Lenox, Mass.
WHEN: Opens Friday and runs through Aug. 30; performance times vary
HOW MUCH: $60-$10
MORE INFO: www.shakespeare.org, (413) 637-3353
“It probably depends on your political perspective. I’m usually playing Caesar, so I always thought that Cassius and Brutus were just odious. Caesar was the dominant force and they wanted him out of the way. Then I played Brutus once and my perspective completely changed. I understood more about what he was going through and his concerns. I still don’t like Cassius. I don’t know. Maybe there isn’t a real good guy in the play.”
Shakespeare & Company’s production began in Orlando, Florida, earlier this year, and moved to Prague in March and April before returning home to Lenox. The response from audiences has been wonderful, according to Gore.
Fabric of culture
“In Prague the crowd was young and very enthusiastic,” he said. “We tended to play in front of a lot of young people and that made it really exciting. The theater is a real fabric of their culture, and you have all these young people showing up and tending to dress up. It’s customary for them to wear a suit or at least a jacket. The show went very well there.”
“Julius Caesar” was also well received at the Orlando Shakespeare Festival.
“We broke box office records down there, selling out a 120-seat theater,” said Gore. “It’s very satisfying to see so many people enjoying Shakespeare. I kind of acquired a taste for him when I was 15. I started reading ‘Twelfth Night,’ I fell in love and have never fallen out of love with it.”
Gore played soccer and cricket as a young boy, and might have stayed more involved with sports if not for an injury. Theater filled the void.
“Then I came to the States and my life changed,” he said.
“I actually was out of theater for a while, but got back into it in 1992 when I trained at the Trinity Repertory Company in Providence with John Douglas Thompson. I’ve performed Shakespeare all over, Colorado, Orlando, here, probably a dozen different places or so. It’s great that there’s still such an appetite for this work.”
He will continue to tour with Packer in the Shakespeare & Company production of “Women of Will,” which played off-Broadway just last year to universal acclaim. Ben Brantley of the New York Times said the show was marvelous, and Jennifer Farrar of the Associated Press called it “boundless and irresistible.”
“I can’t put my finger on it, but there’s something about that show that strikes a nerve with people,” Gore said of “Women of Will,” which allows Packer to bring alive some of Shakespeare’s most famous female characters.
“It’s a very interesting couple hours of theater and we’re going to be doing it again. We’ve done over 200 performances so far, and it’s always different. It doesn’t get boring and that translates to the audience.”