Art And Politics Collide In ‘Julius Caesar’

In Politics
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A New York staging of Shakespeare’s “Julius Caesar” sparks hot controversy in the age of Donald Trump. We’ll go to the play, and its politics.

Tina Benko, left, portrays Melania Trump in the role of Caesar’s wife, Calpurnia, and Gregg Henry, center left, portrays President Donald Trump in the role of Julius Caesar during a dress rehearsal of The Public Theater’s Free Shakespeare in the Park production of Julius Caesar in New York. (Joan Marcus/The Public Theater via AP)

Guests

, theater critic for the New York Daily News. ()

, professor of English at Columbia University, focusing on Shakespeare and medieval and early drama.

, professor of drama, University of Texas at Austin. Director of the Oscar G. Brockett Center for Theatre History and Criticism. ()

From Tom’s Reading List

— “The new production of Shakespeare’s bloody classic imagines the Roman ruler as a blond, swaggering, egotist who’s a dead ringer for the current occupant of the Oval Office. And he gets murdered for his hubris and hunger for power. Subtle? Not one bit. Provocative and button-pushing (which is, after all, the point)? Yes, but only to a point.”

— “When Shakespeare wrote ‘Julius Caesar,’ he did so at a time when England was deeply anxious about its political future. There had been threats against the monarch’s life, and since nobody knew who would succeed the childless queen, civil war was a real possibility. In taking on Caesar, Shakespeare decided to confront the most divisive and provocative political question of the day: Under what circumstances is it justified to depose a tyrant?”

— “Caveat: I haven’t seen the production, so this is not a review. But no one’s reading things into it. Per The New York Times, the Julius Caesar currently stalking the Delacorte Theater has a blond rinse, a blue suit, a long red necktie, and a Slavic wife. When, in Act I, Casca sneers about the ruler’s popularity with the masses, ‘If Caesar had stabbed their mothers, they would have done no less,’ director Oskar Eustis has added the words ‘on Fifth Avenue.'”



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