"Beware the Ides of March!" So says the soothsayer in an exclusive audio preview below from Caesar: A Surround Sound Experiment. The Knock at the Gate production, based on William Shakespeare's Julius Caesar, encourages listeners to experience the binaural audio in a darkened room while wearing headphones. It runs May 25-27, with proceeds going to The Actors Fund.
Caesar begins with a huge celebration on the streets of Ancient Rome in 44 B.C. as Julius Caesar, voiced by Scott Wentworth, and his army return victorious from war against the tyrant named Pompey. As the throng of victors make their way through the street a mysterious shout from a nearby Soothsayer, voiced by Jacqueline Antaramian, in the crowd catches Caesar's ear, halting the proceedings and prompting her to draw near.
"I've been doing some guest teaching during the pandemic and you can sense the dread through the screen when I say to students 'here's a few minutes of some immersive Shakespeare audio plays we've been recording in our closets and basements,' says producer Sean Hudock. "But the responses they come back with after listening have been really exciting...Immersive audio is a pretty niche format, but in some ways these plays were meant to be experienced this way: Shakespeare was writing for an audience who would say 'let's go hear a play;' an audience whose imaginations had to be sparked by the architecture language, by the literal vibrations, rhythms, breaths, and sounds of language because there was no spectacle of scenery or costumes, just sound."
As previously announced, the presentation (originally scheduled for April) features Jacqueline Antaramian, Joel de la Fuente, January LaVoy, Sean Hudock, Mark H. Dold, Joseph Discher, Maurice Jones, Anthony Michael Martinez, Ryan McCarthy, Shane Taylor, Patrick Toon, Tony and Olivier nominee Scott Wentworth, and Derek Wilson.
Adapted and directed by Joseph Discher, the production also features a soundscape by Leigh Roberts and engineering and additional designs by Rider Q. Stanton. The creative team also includes production manager Denise Cardarelli, associate sound designer Kristina Tevdoradze, and production intern Hope Cassandra.
Inspired by the cosmic images and warnings conjured in Shakespeare's portrait of a divided nation—and the work of NASA's data sonification project—Caesar: A Surround Sound Experiment was recorded in isolation. It is the second in a series of in-home virtual reality listening experiences from Knock at the Gate, following Macbeth: A Surround Sound Experiment, which raised $10,000 for The Actors Fund.