Hello, friends! Welcome to Shakespeare Saturday. I actually had two pretty fun articles stashed for today, but current news required our attention. Quickly! To the nerd mobile!
By now, you’re probably aware of the Public Theatre’s Shakespeare in the park production of Julius Caesar. You may also have heard that both Delta and Bank of America have withdrawn funding of the company as a direct result of this particular interpretation (which features a Caesar with an uncanny resemblance to a certain Cheeto-colored blowhard).
“Oh, the horror!” Said a bunch of people who don’t remotely understand the play, the message, or the appeal of Shakespeare. Yeah, the main character calls up a comparison to Drumpf. So? Let us not forget that in 2012 the Guthrie staged a production of Julius Caesar featuring a Caesar modeled after Barack Obama. There was no loss of corporate sponsorship there. Where was the uproar?
Listen, the choice makes perfect sense given the nature of the play, the turbulent divide the country is currently experiencing, and the completely relevant themes that make Shakespeare’s work feel new despite it’s advanced age. The Public’s choice to modernize the look and feel of the play only serves to highlight issues – once faced by Rome – that are now being reincarnated in our own democracy.
I personally don’t see the choice as being “in bad taste”. One might argue that it is, in fact, a bit on the nose. But it is an effective way of honoring that old adage… Art happens when you hold up a mirror for the world to see its flaws. And what better way to know you’ve succeeded than to see people get irrationally defensive.
Thanks for tuning in to my little rant. I’ll see you all on Monday with, perhaps, more on this topic. Or maybe something completely different.