The J-Files: Designing Machinal

Episode 3 of the Director’s Desk Series: James Nelson on Machinal

First impressions are important. When you’re directing a play, it’s important not to say too much to designers until you have something to say – most designers begin their work after a short conceptual meeting with the director, so the best chance to have the whole design team working on one cohesive approach to the show (as opposed to many different approaches within the same production, which in theatre terms we call “a hot mess”) is to choose your words carefully and present a focused approach to the designers in your first conversation.

My attempt to do that with Machinal boiled down my three main findings from my own pre-production work:

  1. Machinal is a play about imprisonment.
  2. We experience the play through the eyes of the Young Woman. Any distortion of aesthetics or acting style is because that’s the way she experiences the world.
  3. The fundamental design question is “How do we create nine unique prisons?”

I also try to start thinking about the audience right away, and how to give them an access point into the play. Machinal is a challenging play, and I personally hate watching theatre I don’t understand, so I wanted to minimize the chance of our audience having that experience. Nobody is going to understand everything, but everybody needs to understand something. One strong association with “expressionism” that I think a lot of people have is with German Expressionist films of the 1920s: Metropolis, The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari, Nosferatu, etc. These films have iconic imagery which they build from a very specific toolkit: the use of light and shadow, sharp or high angles, distorted spatial relations, and exaggerated or impossible scenic elements. We also think of this imagery in black and white, since the films predate color cinema. Ruminating on these films led me to two more findings:

  1. The imagery from German Expressionist films can be a jumping off point for the aesthetics of Machinal
  2. The play should be in “black and white” by default, with color used only when absolutely necessary to the storytelling.

At IU, the current production model allows for three “Design Conference” meetings in which the whole creative team and most of our faculty are in attendance. In the first design conference, the director shares their approach to the production and the designers talk about any ideas they have in a relatively unsolidified way. In the second meeting, the designers present their preliminary designs, and in the third meeting the final designs for the show are revealed. I’m a huge fan of the process – it’s great to have the opportunity to get on the same page so early and make sure everyone’s ideas will play nicely with each other. It’s also quite exciting to finally get a sense of what the show will look like.

Before the first design conference, I met with Jeremy Smith, our scenic designer, and Justin Gannaway, our costume designer, to check in about the play and share some thoughts. In those meetings, it was fun to see where our mutual excitement was – Jeremy and I were both really taken with Expressionism as an art form and loved the German film imagery, and Justin and I thematically and emotionally responded to the play in very similar ways. Both of them were on board with the common theme of imprisonment, even if they didn’t know exactly how that would show itself in their design yet.

At the first design conference, Jeremy showed his research images: he was drawn in by expressionist imagery, but he also wanted to pursue the idea of imprisonment through the use of string. Actual, literal string. He showed the team images of artwork made through stretching string in particular ways to create a powerful visual effect. Justin’s research was more period specific – he is the main link between the audience and the literal setting of the play (which takes place in the 1920s), but he was already toying with the absence of color and the ways in which his costumes could represent the way the world felt to the audience. Darrian Brimberry, our lighting designer, showed research images of different stylized effects, illustrating how imprisonment can be shown through lighting, and she had ideas of how that would play into Jeremy’s set through the ways that string can be lit. And Tony Stoeri, our sound designer, confirmed that “there will be sound”.

Between design conferences, we had a smaller, offline meeting with the design team as well as assistant director Corinne Florentino and dramaturg Joseph D’Ambrosi and we started to tackle my initial question: Through the nine episodes of the show, how do we depict nine unique prisons? We went to the text and broke down each episode: what is happening to the Young Woman and what particular oppression is she confined by in that episode? Is it a common occurrence for her, or something brand new? Through a rigorous and fascinating discussion, we created titles for the “prisons” (as we now referred to the episodes) that would function as tags to clarify the design of each one.

Our final list, after lots of debate, was as follows:

Episode 1: To Business – “The Prison of Automation”

Episode 2: At Home – “The Prison of Maternal Absence”

Episode 3: Honeymoon – “The Prison of Forced Consent”

Episode 4: Maternal – “The Prison of the Female Body”

Episode 5: Prohibited – “The Prison of Social Pressure”

Episode 6: Intimate – “The Prison of False Hope”

Episode 7: Domestic – “The Prison of Everyday Life”

Episode 8: The Law – “The Prison of Word”

Episode 9: A Machine – “The Prison of Mercy”

Our team had created a common vocabulary. We knew what we were trying to thematically depict in our production, we had defined the identities of our episodes, we knew why we were straying from realism and how to do it, and had ensured that the many ideas that would come to us afterward would have common roots.

James Nelson is a second year M.F.A. student in directing. In the San Francisco Bay Area, James has directed for Custom Made Theatre Company, Ross Valley Players, Masquers Playhouse, FaultLine Theater, Dragon Productions, Novato Theater Company, and others. He was previously the artistic director of the Anglo-Irish Theatre Group in Tübingen, Germany, where he directed productions of Equus, Translations, The Pillowman, And Then There Were None, Black Comedy, and Romeo and Juliet.

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SPEA Insights: Orishas from Africa to Brazil

By Sara Cruz

“Healing at the Source” Choreographer Dr. Nyama McCarthy-Brown

As I sat in to watch one of the rehearsals of this weekend’s Winter Dance Concert, I took interest in the original work choreographed by Professor Nyama McCarthy-Brown about water conservation and inspired by the Yoruba Culture of West Africa. Each dancer represents an Orisha, which are entities from Yoruba that represent elements of nature. I wondered if people in North America recognize that word like I do. Do you know what an Orisha is?

The Yoruba are a diverse group and are bound to each other by their language, religion, history, and culture. They are one of the largest ethnic groups south of the Sahara. Their traditional art practices include sculpture, mask forms, pottery, weaving, bead-working, and metalsmithing.

“Healing at the Source”, from BODIES OF LIGHT rehearsal

Yoruba culture was brought to the Americas by enslaved Africans, and their descendants kept the Yoruba traditions. Even through years of strong repression, their culture ended up having major influence on many other ethnic groups and religions in the Caribbean and South America, including Christianity.

In Brazil, Yoruba originated Candomblé, Ubanda, and Santeria; which are religions that were repressed for many years but eventually became a major source of cultural exchange for the country, even influencing the Catholic faith in Brazil. Having grown up in Brazil, I understood what this dance was trying to communicate. Orishas are spirits that represent nature, they have power over the Animal and Plant kingdoms and all 4 elements: water, air, fire, and earth.

One of the most recognizable Orisha (Orixás in Portuguese) in Brazil is Iemanjá the Goddess of the Sea. Every year the faithful from all religions give offerings to her for protection. In these cultures, every person is assigned one or more orisha as a protector, based on a specific combination of year of birth, month, date, and day of the week.

In researching for the Winter Dance Concert, I found out that this is not the first time that Orishas have visited IU Theatre.  A couple years ago IU Theatre presented In the Red and Brown Water by Tarell Alvin McCraney and directed by David Koté, whose characters are based on and named for Yoruba Orishas. I recognized some of the Orishas that were represented in the play. Shango (Xangô) spirit of thunder and fire, Ogun spirit of the earth and labor, Shun (Oxun) for rivers, creeks, and waterfalls.

It is amazing to see how how much African culture has influenced the Brazil that we have today.  If you want to know more about Yoruba and Orishas or Iorubá and Orixás here are some places you can find more information!

Understanding Religiosity in the African Diaspora: How Orisha Worship Survived in Brazil [Huff Post]

Orixás: The Divine Forces of Nature [Soul Brasil Magazine]

Countries and Their Cultures: Yoruba []

Art & Life in Africa [University of Iowa]

Sara Cruz is a graduate student in the Arts Administration program in IU’s School of Public and Environmental Affairs. She is a Marketing Assistant for the Theatre this year, and brings great talent and enthusiasm to the job.

Sara is from Brazil and earned a bachelor’s degree in music from East Carolina University in Greenville, NC before coming to IU.

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The J-Files: Forming an approach

Episode 2 of the Director’s Desk Series: James Nelson on Machinal

Often, when you pitch a show to a theatre, you already have a strong idea of your conceptual ideas for the work, and you’re selling the producer on not just the material but your approach to it as well.

In the case of Machinal, it happened the other way around – I was asked to direct a play that I still was very new to, and it was clear from the style of the play that a strong directorial hand was required. I needed to do some work.

Directors are very different animals in their pre-production process. For me, I start by trying to answer the question “What is this play about in a single word?”. I brainstorm a number of possibilities and then try to imagine the production design that might come from them. A version of Hamlet as a play about revenge looks and feels very different than a Hamlet about self-doubt, or a Hamlet about duty. What production would I most like to see? What are the most compelling ways that word could reveal itself to an audience? To me, it’s more than just identifying a central theme for the play – it’s creating a root idea that will ground the ideas of the design team in one cohesive world.

For me Machinal is a play about imprisonment – a word that literally means to confine in or as if in a prison. In the play, a Young Woman (she’s given a name halfway through the play, but expressionist plays don’t usually refer to characters by name) is taken through nine episodes that depict the various ways in which she is subjugated and marginalized by a patriarchal society in which men render her voiceless and rob her of her agency. What resonated about the idea of imprisonment for me is imagining every situation in her life – work, marriage, childbirth, even socializing – as a different kind of prison that she lives in. Of course, the play eventually leads the Young Woman to a literal prison by the end, but it’s chilling to think she was actually in prison from the day she was born.

Machinal is one of the flagship examples of American expressionism. I’m embarrassed to admit that previously to reading the play, I didn’t even know what expressionism was. Doing some research into the movement helped tremendously with understanding and analyzing the text. A lot of the motifs: repetitive language, nameless characters, and distorted sounds and imagery were indicative of the style, but the most illuminating discovery was the importance in expressionism of having a singular voice through which the nonrealistic elements are viewed – in painting, it’s often the voice of the artist (think Munch’s famous painting The Scream), but in the case of Machinal, that voice was clearly the Young Woman. The breakthrough realization for me was this: everything that the audience sees or experiences in this world, they see or experience through the Young Woman’s eyes. She is the lens through which we watch the play.

The second major finding from unpacking expressionism was the reliance of “episodes”, rather than scenes. The words aren’t synonymous. Episodes have a more self-contained quality, even if they are intended to be part of a larger narrative. They stand alone, but have a further impact in their relation to other episodes. In our case, we have nine different episodes, each of which needs to have its own clear identity and reveal itself to us slightly differently.

Blending the idea of imprisonment with findings from examining expressionism, I had my approach, as simple as it was:

  1. Machinal is a play about imprisonment.
  2. We experience the play through the eyes of the Young Woman. Any distortion of aesthetics or acting style is because that’s the way she experiences the world.
  3. The fundamental design question is “How do we create nine unique prisons?”

It was time to start talking to designers.

James Nelson is a second year M.F.A. student in directing. In the San Francisco Bay Area, James has directed for Custom Made Theatre Company, Ross Valley Players, Masquers Playhouse, FaultLine Theater, Dragon Productions, Novato Theater Company, and others. He was previously the artistic director of the Anglo-Irish Theatre Group in Tübingen, Germany, where he directed productions of Equus, Translations, The Pillowman, And Then There Were None, Black Comedy, and Romeo and Juliet.

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The J-Files: First encounter

Episode 1 of the Director’s Desk Series: James Nelson on Machinal
M.F.A. James Nelson returns to the blog with a journey into the world of Sophie Treadwell’s

“So, what I’m hearing you say is that my proposals have all been thrown out?”

It was fall of 2016 when I met with my advisor to check in about the 2017-2018 IU Theatre season. As a MFA director, I’m slated to direct a production in the mainstage season during my second year, but the process of selecting which show that might be is rather complicated. A committee of about a dozen people from across the faculty (with representatives from the student body) assembles weekly for nearly the entire fall semester and starts vetting all the submissions they receive. Each director is asked to propose three shows they would be interested in, but there’s no guarantee that any of them will be selected, and there’s plenty of suggestions from the different areas and directly from the students to consider as well.

I was feeling pretty confident with the three shows I put forward in my proposals, so I was quite surprised to hear that they had all been shot down for various reasons. “I just don’t think it’s a good play,” my advisor told me frankly about one of them. For another one, “We don’t think we should be doing as many plays with music”. The third – my favorite play of all time, a play that’s been close to my heart since I was young, a play that ruminates on the loneliness of displaced souls – was dismissed with “it just feels dated”.

Compounding my disappointment was that it was too late in the process to come back with new proposals, so I had to look at titles that were still under consideration and had some momentum from the committee. The first couple things I was asked to look at weren’t promising, and it was time for my own blunt feedback. “I don’t feel any sense of joy in the play, it’s very humorless and bleak”, I wrote about one of them. “I think the direction of this play would be largely figuring out how to make the tech work, which arguably isn’t the most inspiring challenge for a student director,” I stated about another. And, more straightforwardly, “I can’t believe this is in consideration for our season. Can you imagine putting our audiences through this?” about a third.

Then I was asked to look at Sophie Treadwell’s Machinal, a play I had heard of but had never read or seen staged. I sat down with the text, desperately hopeful that I would like it. The entirety of the first scene of the play is fragmented non-realistic dialogue delivered in a spitfire sequence that only makes a glimpse of sense in the first pass, ending with a two-page stream-of-consciousness monologue, delivered one or two words at a time, reminiscent of something out of a late Beckett play (which postdates Machinal, to be fair). It was exactly the kind of material that I struggle to like, as a director or an audience member.

But there was something very different about the first scene of Machinal. There was a piercing voice of despair silently crying out for help between the words on the page, a palpable helplessness that underscored the action. I was a bit confused, but I was more intrigued and excited. As I continued to read the rest of the play, Treadwell’s world revealed itself in surprising and disturbing ways, and my mind was racing with theatrical possibilities. There is so much here, I thought. You can do so much with this play.

When I finished reading the play, I turned back to the first page and began again. The first reading pulled me in, the second one gripped me. I became instantly and deeply compelled by the work and wanted the chance to explore it further. It was far out of my comfort zone as a director, but the challenges the play presented were exactly what I wanted to take on during my graduate training. I met with my advisor the next day and pleaded that he express my interest in the play to the committee. After a couple more weeks of silence, it was confirmed for the season, and would be the first main stage show I direct at IU.

I probably whispered “yes!” to myself a hundred times. Maybe I cried a little too.

James Nelson is a second year M.F.A. student in directing. In the San Francisco Bay Area, James has directed for Custom Made Theatre Company, Ross Valley Players, Masquers Playhouse, FaultLine Theater, Dragon Productions, Novato Theater Company, and others. He was previously the artistic director of the Anglo-Irish Theatre Group in Tübingen, Germany, where he directed productions of Equus, Translations, The Pillowman, And Then There Were None, Black Comedy, and Romeo and Juliet.

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H-T REVIEW: Noble Romans are roamin’ the stage, and Caesar’s seizin’ applause

By Connie Shakalis | H-T Reviewer Jan 21, 2018

Meaghan Deiter plays Julius Caesar during a rehearsal Tuesday in Bloomington. Jeremy Hogan | Herald-Times

With friends like these, who needs enemies? And, as Ralph Waldo Emerson put it, to succeed is to “endure the betrayal of false friends.” Although Julius Caesar doesn’t endure, but succumbs, to his pernicious pals, in effect he (she, in IU’s production) wins anyway. Her murderers all die agonizing deaths, and Caesar’s ghost gets to wander around, gloating.

William Shakespeare’s “The Tragedy of Julius Caesar” could have used Jane Austen’s play’s title “Persuasion,” in that Caesar and nearly all the other characters spend most of their time delivering hearty, persuasive speeches to one another. Some scholars have noted that the play is really a series of character sketches and monologues. As in all of Shakespeare’s tragedies, we learn about people: what we want, disdain and fear and how we go about gaining or avoiding it.

The play is more about Brutus and Cassius than Caesar, and we watch as these two best friends unite against their common friend-turned-enemy, Caesar: After all, when peers rise too high, how unsavory they become. Brutus and Cassius, however, are doomed by their own moral deafness and military mistakes.

Justino Brokaw as Caius Cassius and Michael Bayler as Marcus Brutus

This production of “The Tragedy of Julius Caesar” by IU’s Department of Theatre, Drama and Contemporary Dance kept me riveted. Justino Brokaw plays Cassius as his third-year MFA thesis role, and he is divine, nearly nabbing the night. Oh, if only Brutus had believed him about not allowing Mark Antony to speak at Caesar’s funeral! Gives meaning to the old “when you assume,” you make an ass-out-of-U- & -M-E.

Brutus, why did you assume Antony was telling you the truth when he swore to speak calmly and unprovokingly to the plebeians about Caesar’s murder? Michael Bayler, who was such a marvelously goofy Black Stache in last fall’s “Peter and the Starcatcher,” is equally intense as Brutus, in a very different way. He is the only conspirator who loves, instead of merely envies, Caesar, and I felt his torment as he was persuaded to help kill her. Pondering Caesar’s growing ambition, he worries, “How that (power) might change her nature.” He damns not her but her “abuse of greatness.”

As Mark Antony, Nicholas Jenkins, another third-year MFA thesis student, was heart-rending, and I knew he was devastated at Caesar’s fate. His Antony is the kind of friend I want. Meaghan Deiter made a powerful and regal Caesar, and I slipped right into believing her, regardless of the gender switch.

Nicholas Jenkins as Mark Antony

As Decia, Tess Cunningham is in her cunning glory, and this is my favorite of the roles I’ve seen her play. She wriggles her way into Caesar’s head, and is she ever mean. As Casca, Matthew Waterman gave us some levity with his “rudeness and wit,” which we needed. In a less than light moment, he has the privilege of starting the massacre; I cringed. Shai Warfield-Cross was a beautiful, tender Portia. Although I longed for the (excluded here) part where she shows husband Brutus her self-inflicted thigh wound (to prove her soldier-like worthiness to hear his secrets), I liked her grace.

Sound designer Andrew Hopson’s eerily anachronistic sounds include helicopters and machine guns and lent a frightening — like who needed more fear? — ambience. Direction by Jenny McKnight had the audience leaning forward throughout and cheering at the end.

Ambitious people, like Caesar, Brutus, Cassius and Antony, shine most brightly among ambitious people. Talent shines amid talent. This production, with its wide-ranging cast, has plenty of both.

If You Go

WHO: Indiana University Department of Theatre, Drama and Contemporary Dance.

WHAT: “Julius Caesar,” written by William Shakespeare, directed by Jenny McKnight.

WHEN: 7:30 p.m. Tuesday-Saturday; 2 p.m. Saturday.

WHERE: Ruth N. Halls Theatre, 275 N. Jordan Ave.

TICKETS: $5-$20; 812-855-1103,

Reprinted with permission from The Herald Times. For more theatre reviews and arts news, visit

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Theatre Geek of The Week: Mac Van Tassel

Theatre Geek of the Week is an IU Theatre blog series where you can meet some of the students, faculty and supporters of IU’s Department of Theatre, Drama and Contemporary Dance!

1. What do yoSnapchat-699507929(1)u do at IU, and why do you do it?

I am a student creating my own major in Theatre Production and Design. I also am the Electrics Manager for the Studio Theatre and a member of the Electrics Crew for the Theatre. I love creating and I love art. I always wanted to be a painter or visual artist but was absolutely awful at it. Once I realized that I can create and paint with light on people, architecture, etc, I knew that that was what I wanted to be a part of.

2. When did first you realize you were a theatre geek?

I think I knew I was a geek for it all when I was crawling around underneath a platform at my high school, screwing it all together. It was the most fun I had ever had in the first year and a half of my high school career.

3. What is your favorite thing about the theatre, and why?

My favorite thing about theatre is working with so many creative minds that come from so many different backgrounds. Every creative mind that you would work with expands yours and makes your perspective towards your work that much more creative and dynamic.

4. What is one project you’ve undertaken at IU that has taught you the most?

I would say designing Joe Schmoe Saves the World was an amazing eye opening experience. I was thrown in and frankly in way over my head. I would say I learned a lot about where I am as a designer and electrician and my personal tastes and styles as well.


IU Summer Theatre Joe Schmoe Saves the World

5. When no one is watching, what song do you love to dance or sing along with?

Face Down by The Red Jumpsuit Apparatus

6. Who in the theatre world inspires you, and why?

I am inspired by Bridget Williams, a recent Lighting Design MFA graduate here at IU. She was the first designer I ever assisted and the first to really take me under her wing and show me what it was going to take to get this done. She and Tony Stoeri, 3rd year graduate student, both push me creatively. They are constantly convincing me to experiment and make bold decisions. I strive to be as thoughtful and creative as they are.

7. Do you have any words of advice for new theatre students?

Get involved! Dont wait! Hit the ground running and you will be better prepared for the long haul. Life is short but college is shorter, so do what you can while you can. Be prepared to be disappointed in your work, to look at a performance or a design and be frustrated, or even upset. But take that and use it to fuel you. Strive to push yourself every day. The worst thing you could do would be to tell yourself you’ve learned everything.

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H-T FEATURE: Women take center stage in IU production of ‘Julius Caesar’

By Jenny Porter Tilley |  Jan 17, 2018

Meaghan Deiter plays Julius Caesar during a rehearsal Tuesday in Bloomington. (Jeremy Hogan | Herald Times)

“A new day is on the horizon,” Oprah Winfrey said, in a statement that ended with a standing ovation, as she accepted the Cecil B. DeMille Award for lifetime achievement earlier this month at the Golden Globes.

Winfrey spoke directly to young girls watching, telling them they too could be leaders in the entertainment industry. As public accounts of sexism and sexual assault continue to emerge, pressure is growing to provide more and bigger roles for women.

But there’s another way to give female actors more opportunities: By casting them in roles traditionally given to men, starting with texts written centuries ago. It’s happening with Indiana University’s upcoming production of William Shakespeare’s “Julius Caesar,” opening Friday at IU’s Ruth N. Halls Theatre.

Meaghan Deiter, who plays the title role, is thrilled to get to say one of the most famous lines in all of Shakespeare’s work: “Et tu, Brute?”

“I get to say that, which is really cool,” Deiter said. “It traditionally wouldn’t have been available for a woman to say or play the role.”

In its original form, the play has only two roles for women, both of whom are wives of other characters. The rest of the roles — 39 of them — are for men. It makes sense, considering many of the scenes involve governmental officials and people in battle, which would have been all men at the time.

Director Jenny McKnight

In director Jenny McKnight’s cut of the play coming to IU, there are 21 actors. She cast eight women, some in roles traditionally played by men, instead of casting the 19 men and two women the scenes she chose would require.

“This is happening more, and I think it’s a cool opportunity for women,” Deiter said. It’s not her first time playing a Shakespeare part originally written for a man, either. In “The Tempest” last spring, she played the role of King Alonso, which was recast as a queen.

Bloomington audiences were exposed to another twist in casting Shakespeare’s works in 2016, when Cardinal Stage Co.’s production of “The Merchant of Venice” featured women playing all the roles, portraying both men and women.

When McKnight began auditioning actors for “Caesar,” she didn’t come into it with a plan to cast the title character as a woman. But she did create a couple of composite characters who she planned to be women, based on multiple characters in Shakespeare’s original play.

“This play was written in 1599,” McKnight said. “It’s been produced a billion times. I can’t imagine anything that we’re doing hasn’t been tried before.” Rather than trying to do something groundbreaking, she’s focused on the experience Bloomington audiences will get from the production — including theater and English students who may come to the show to fulfill a requirement for a class.

“How do we get those students excited and hooked into Shakespeare? We make it unexpected,” she said. “They expect to see a bunch of white guys in togas, but then see something else.” She hopes they’ll sit forward in their seats a little and take notice.

Students of theater working with historical texts are familiar with the skew toward roles for white men. IU’s Department of Theatre, Drama and Contemporary Dance strives to plan seasons with diversity in style, content and available roles, according to chairman Jonathan Michaelsen.

“We want to make sure we aren’t doing things that are so male-dominated that we don’t have enough roles for women,” he said. “Then we try to take on pieces that are diverse culturally and reflect the world as much as we can.”

Planning a season this way means not necessarily eliminating historical plays that should be a part of an actor’s curriculum, but instead rethinking them, often using colorblind and gender-blind casting methods.

It’s not uncommon for theater instructors to have women playing men’s roles and vice versa in class, McKnight said. But most of the time, “it happens as a classroom exercise, but not as a full-blown production,” she said. “There’s still a lot of work to do in that realm in terms of changing minds. Some people are still old-school about casting. … I do think minds are changing, and we’re living in an exciting time when people are not just willing, but excited, to think outside the box.”

Although presenting an established play in a different way can be a risk, Michaelsen wants the department’s students to learn that they can take risks as they build their own careers.

“It gets students thinking in a creative way, not just presenting it the way it’s always been done,” he said. “It not only gives certain students more opportunities, it also just makes everyone in the cast — and hopefully the audience, too — think that yeah, you can take a risk. You can do something different.”

As women in acting, as well as other professions, continue to fight for their voices to be heard and to be given a seat at the table, Michaelsen hopes IU students on stage and in the audience are already being accustomed to new ways of thinking.

“We’re trying to serve as many students we can and as many diverse backgrounds as we can,” he said. “To say that ‘Hamlet’ was written for a man, so only a man can do it … we’re getting away from that.”

If You Go

WHO: Indiana Department of Theatre, Drama, and Contemporary Dance.

WHAT: “Julius Caesar,” written by William Shakespeare, directed by Jenny McKnight.

WHEN: 7:30 p.m. Friday, Saturday and Jan. 23-27; 2 p.m. Jan. 27.

WHERE: Ruth N. Halls Theatre, 275 N. Jordan Ave.

TICKETS: $5-$20; 812-855-1103,

Reprinted with permission from The Herald Times. Find more arts news from Jenny Porter Tilley at

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