by Mike Poulton
directed by Gregory Doran
based on the Cicero trilogy by Robert Harris
Originally produced at Royal Shakespeare Company, Stratford-upon-Avon, UK
November 16, 2017 to February 10, 2018
About the Premiere Production:
Synopsis: Following his stunning RSC adaptations of Hilary Mantel’s ‘Wolf Hall’ and ‘Bring Up the Bodies’, Mike Poulton turns his pen to the thrilling world of ancient Rome with a brand-new version of Robert Harris’ best-selling Cicero novels. Cicero, the greatest orator of his age, devoted all his energy and cunning to preserve the rule of law, and defend Rome’s Republic against the predatory attacks of political rivals, discontented aristocrats, and would-be military dictators.
In two parts, ‘Imperium’ follows Cicero’s triumphs and disasters, through power struggles, civil wars, and personal highs and lows. A backstage view of Rome at its most bloody and brutal.
PART I: CONSPIRATOR
Cicero is elected consul by a unanimous vote of the Roman people. Catiline, his aristocratic rival, is furious in defeat and refuses to accept the results of the election. He swears a blood oath to destroy Cicero, murder the government, and take Rome by force. Behind the conspiracy, Cicero suspects, lurks Julius Caesar – young, ruthless, popular with the Roman mob and greedy for absolute power. As law and order begins to break down, who controls the mob controls Rome.
PART II: DICTATOR
Cicero has retired from politics. Julius Caesar – dictator, and commander of Rome’s armies – is assassinated. Cicero sees his death as an opportunity to restore the Republic but the assassins, Brutus and Cassius, hesitate as power falls into the lap of Mark Antony. Determined to prevent Antony imposing a military dictatorship on Rome, Cicero forms an unlikely alliance with the 19 year old heir of Julius Caesar. Confident that he can control the boy, Cicero sets out to save the Republic.
Artistic Statement: "These new plays seek to explore the very meaning of power by taking the audience into the corridors and backrooms of the senate to experience what it felt like to run the most powerful republic on earth: ancient Rome. When in Rome, of course, we must realise the spectacular ritual and ceremony of the returning armies, chariots in the streets, the gathering of restless, violent crowds. This will be both challenging and thrilling for our creative team and acting company, and will benefit enormously from the support of the Edgerton Foundation." Pippa Hill, Literary Manager and Dramaturge
Set Designer: Anthony Ward
Lighting Designer: Mark Henderson
Sound Designer: Claire Windsor
Music: Paul Englishby