Vic Hoyland

Julius Caesar at Ferrara

Ferrara, Emilia Romagna, Italy

Performances took place over five weeks at Easter,1991

The Italian students were drawn from the Classico and Scientifico schools as well as students at the universities of Ferrara and Bologna. And these worked with the six MDD/Drama students from Birmingham over a five week period, every day.

Sala Polivalente

Sala Polivalente

Il Teatro Nucleo

Il Teatro Nucleo, now the Department of Architecture

Ferrara, Teatro Nucleo, Sala Polivalente, Progetti

From 1987 – 1994 I worked with my Drama colleague David Hirst on 7 bilingual music-theatre projects which were based on Shakespeare’s plays, of which Julius Caesar was the most physical, dynamic and daring. We had worked alongside Teatro Nucleo, a commune based at Ferrara but whose performers came from various parts of the world. Chief amongst them were Cora Herrendorf (Vocalist/Accordionist) and Orazio Czertok (Director/Chef).

All the students attended rehearsals as well as performances of a repertoire that reached back to 1980. Look at their Produzioni web page, which begins at 1975 and continues to this day, to see evidence of this company’s creative output.

While Hamlet was being conceived and rehearsed in the back garden of Teatro Nucleo (mostly up in the near barren central tree) we witnessed Chiaro di Luna, Luci, Clowns, and Fahrenheit (in the streets of Ferrara). Above all, A Media Luz (1986), which was a male version of Genet’s The Maids, played out as if they were circus knife throwing performers/acrobats - Absolutely terrifying.

This was Artaud based physical theatre where music played an integral part and we willingly learned from their mastery of the medium.

Cora was honoured by the city of Ferrara for her extraordinary energy and commitment to this theatre and to the city.

We became good friends over those years and came to enjoy their communal suppers – Orazio was chief chef.

David Hirst had worked with Edward Bond, was passionate about opera (he considered Verdi and Wagner to be the greatest dramatists of the nineteenth century) and shared the MDD music-course with me at Birmingham. David had a close connection with the Shakespeare Institute at Stratford, which was just 20 miles along the salt road from my home at Droitwich Spa. We spent many evenings at The Mucky Duck, Stratford, sharing our understanding of the untapped potential for music with theatre.

We were given our own theatre space in Ferrara. It is housed in the main city park, close to the walls. It was a Renaissance stable for horses but had been converted to be a wooden box, studio theatre, set inside the stone building. Opposite is another stable, which is now a small art gallery.

David eventually moved to Ferrara to live out his retirement. He is buried in La Certosa cemetery, within the city walls.