Back in May, the Plank team held a hack day to help Repercussion Theatre better serve their francophone audiences during their Shakespeare in the Park season. We built a mobile web app where people can read the text in French at their own pace, and someone backstage can let the audience know where in the text the action is taking place. Since then, we’ve been polishing it up and are pleased to offer up the pilot project to audiences in Montreal this summer. We’re excited to see how it is received and what we might be able to do with it in the future.

Part of the Plank team attended opening night to check out the show and see our app in action!

The Show

Amanda Kellock, Repercussion’s Artistic Director, chose to present The Tragedy of Julius Caesar with an all-female cast, in a post-apocalyptic setting. Marjolaine Provençal set the scene with a multi-level set design of rusted pipes and fountains. Perched above the action sat Catherine Varvaro, accentuating the action with a live percussive score. The players were artfully costumed by Susana Vera, who mixed materials and textures to create distinctive looks for senators, warriors and citizens. Leni Parker was powerful, graceful and regal as Julius Caesar, and Danette MacKay (Cassius) and Deena Aziz (Brutus) showed us the complexities of friendship, loyalty, and betrayal. In fact, the entire cast deserves recognition for their dynamic and compelling performances.

It was gratifying to see women in powerful roles as warriors and senators, but also jarring to hear the disparaging lines in the text about the weakness of women coming from those self-same mouths. As much as Julius Caesar is a play about power and corruption, it also one about relationships, devotion and manipulation and the complicated nature of brotherhood (or sisterhood, as the case may be).

The App

We didn’t have much of a network signal in the Mount Royal Cemetery, but the app worked well, and a few people checked it out. I must confess, the play was so engaging that I wasn’t looking at my phone much! We are excited to gauge the interest in the tool, and to gather feedback from users over the summer. We already have ideas about tweaks and additional features to make the app more robust.

Plank is so pleased to have contributed to Repercussions Theatre’s production, and we wish them a very successful season. We love working on projects with the cultural community, and are looking forward to taking this one even further.

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