Social Shakespeare: chatbot meets Julius Caesar

Abdul Muhaimin
Still from #ItWasgreekToMe of Abdul Muhaimin, third year Bachelor of Fine Arts (Acting) student as Mark Antony.

The University of Melbourne’s Faculty of Arts has reimagined Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar, with the launch of a transmedia, immersive digital experience titled #ItWasGreekToMe that incorporates Virtual Reality, chatbots and a game app.

The production takes the 1599 play into the digital age, with 360 degree video, regular video, audio, text messages and physical case files that audiences can explore, all delivered through Facebook Messenger via a chatbot.

The production pushes users to a game app, Bottle Dash, available on both iTunes and Android, where players can unlock exclusive content back through Facebook Messenger.

A pop-up shop will be installed at University Plaza in front of the Glyn Davis Building from August 12 through 23 including Open Day on Sunday 18 August. The playful pop-up ‘shop’ RVR Tiber Water (a fake brand owned by Mark Antony, Caesar’s loyal supporter) is made out of a retrofitted shipping container.

Members of the public can covertly visit and experience the 360 video of Act 1 Scene 1 of Julius Caesar and will receive a secret envelope of materials to unpack.

The cast is made up of Bachelor of Fine Arts (Acting) students from the University's Faculty of Fine Arts and Music. The production was directed by Budi Miller (Head of Acting) at the Victorian College of the Arts and devised, developed and produced by Jason O’Leary.

Senior Lecturer in Shakespeare Studies Dr David McInnis is the academic supervisor for the project, he said:

“This demonstrates the agelessness of William Shakespeare’s work. The political machinations, intrigue and plotting continue to enthrall audiences centuries later and new technologies provide endless opportunities for creating interactive works of art.”

Year 11 and 12 students also had a hands-on experience of the play as a well as the opportunity to delve into the Bachelor of Arts at Major Hack 2019, the University’s  first humanities hackathon in July.

Major Hack lets students get a better understanding of subjects within the Bachelor of Arts degree course as they navigate a series of challenges presented throughout the day.

The play Julius Caesar offers a lens through which students can examine a number of different aspects of the Bachelor of Arts including Media and Communications, Ancient World Studies, History, Politics and International Studies, and English and Theatre Studies.

Key cast

Indey Salvestro as Brutus

Anthony Yangoyan as Cassius

Esther Randles as Portia & Calpurnia

Abdul Muhaimin as Mark Antony

#ItWasGreekToMe is available to experience online now:

Media opportunity:

WHEN: 9am to 6pm by appointment Wednesday 14 to Friday 23 August

WHERE: University Lawn, Parkville VIC 3010

CONTENT: Download images, videos, chats and audio from