June 12, 2017

New York's Public Theater does Shakespeare's "Julius Caesar" with a Trump lookalike playing JC and getting stabbed to death on stage.

"Criticism of the play reached a fever pitch on Sunday when Fox News reported that it 'appears to depict President Trump being brutally stabbed to death by women and minorities.'" And now sponsors are withdrawing, the NYT reports:
“No matter what your political stance may be, the graphic staging of ‘Julius Caesar’ at this summer’s Free Shakespeare in the Park does not reflect Delta Air Lines’ values,”* the company said in a statement on Sunday night.

“Their artistic and creative direction crossed the line on the standards of good taste,” the company said. “We have notified them of our decision to end our sponsorship as the official airline of the Public Theater effective immediately.”

Bank of America followed hours later, saying it would withdraw financial support from the production of “Julius Caesar” but would not end its financial relationship with the theater, which a spokeswoman, Susan Atran, said had lasted for 11 years.
The NYT itself is a sponsor of the play, and the article reports pressure on the Times to withdraw. Its position, however, is: "As an institution that believes in free speech for the arts as well as the media, we support the right of the Public Theater to stage the production as they chose."

This conception of the play pre-dated the Kathy Griffin incident:
Performances at Central Park's Delacorte Theater began in late May, just days before comedian Kathy Griffin was widely condemned for posing for a photograph in which she gripped a bloodied rendering of Trump's head.
If the producers had had a chance to see how Kathy's tribulations unfurled, they'd probably have done the show another way. But they committed to their idea back when it was harder to see through the shell of the bubble. And now they're losing money over it.

The show runs until June 18th, and the show must go on. What else can they do? Change the makeup, wig, and costume of the lead actor? Send some weasel out to do a faux Shakespearean we-mean-no-harm prologue, some sort of "If we shadows have offended/Think but this, and all is mended" bullshit...



____________________

* "United couldn't have said that" (says rhhardin in the comments.)

126 comments:

MikeR said...

No "Trump Derangement Syndrome" tag?

rhhardin said...

“No matter what your political stance may be, the graphic staging of ‘Julius Caesar’ at this summer’s Free Shakespeare in the Park does not reflect Delta Air Lines’ values,” the company said in a statement on Sunday night.

United couldn't have said that.

Michael McClain said...

The DemCong insist on injecting their politics into absolutely everything.

campy said...

It'd be funny if in the final performance they replaced the actor with an Obama lookalike.

Henry said...

How is the "Friends, Romans, countrymen" speech delivered? It appears that the play's producers have cast themselves in the role of Brutus.

Friends, Romans, countrymen, lend me your ears.
I come to bury Caesar, not to praise him.
The evil that men do lives after them;
The good is oft interrèd with their bones.
So let it be with Caesar. The noble Brutus
Hath told you Caesar was ambitious.
If it were so, it was a grievous fault,
And grievously hath Caesar answered it.
Here, under leave of Brutus and the rest—
Did this in Caesar seem ambitious?
When that the poor have cried, Caesar hath wept.
Ambition should be made of sterner stuff.
Yet Brutus says he was ambitious,
And Brutus is an honorable man.
You all did see that on the Lupercal
I thrice presented him a kingly crown,
Which he did thrice refuse. Was this ambition?
Yet Brutus says he was ambitious,
And, sure, he is an honorable man.
I speak not to disprove what Brutus spoke,
But here I am to speak what I do know.
You all did love him once, not without cause.
What cause withholds you then to mourn for him?
O judgment! Thou art fled to brutish beasts,
And men have lost their reason. Bear with me.
My heart is in the coffin there with Caesar,
And I must pause till it come back to me. (weeps)
For Brutus is an honorable man;
So are they all, all honorable men—
Come I to speak in Caesar’s funeral.
He was my friend, faithful and just to me.
But Brutus says he was ambitious,
And Brutus is an honorable man.
He hath brought many captives home to Rome
Whose ransoms did the general coffers fill.

rhhardin said...

If the NYT withdraws, et tu Brute is a good line.

Sebastian said...

Rape Melania signs on day one, street violence next, then the decapitation display, now straight-up murder: the progression of progressive America.

JPS said...

campy,

"It'd be funny if in the final performance they replaced the actor with an Obama lookalike."

As always, that would be completely different.

Ann Althouse said...

"No "Trump Derangement Syndrome" tag?"

Why?

It's a production of "Julius Caesar," done in modern dress with the dictator styled as Trump. What's deranged? Why should we not think about the ideas presented by the historical play as they might related to our current situation. It's not a pro-assassination play!

Seems to me the derangement cuts the other way.

I remember when LBJ was President and there was a version of "MacBeth" that depicted LBJ. Spoiler alert: MacBeth dies. And in the Nixon era, we were encouraged to view "Richard III" as Nixon.

Ann Althouse said...

Was it a mistake, by the way, to murder Julius Caesar?

"While the conspiracy had all the makings of a great plan, little attempt was made to prepare for afterwards. The conspirators made their way to Capitoline Hill and the Temple of Jupiter. Brutus spoke from a platform at the foot of the hill, trying in vain to calm the crowd. Meanwhile, slaves carried Caesar’s body through the streets to his home; people wept as it passed. The funeral procession on March 20 was a spectacle unlike the one portrayed by Shakespeare, although Antony did give a short eulogy. A pyre had been built on the Field of Mars near the family tomb; however, Caesar’s body was quickly seized by locals and taken to the Forum where it was burned on a much simpler pyre. The ashes were returned to the Field of Mars and his family tomb; the city continued to mourn. In his The Twelve Caesars Suetonius wrote that Caesar may have been aware of the plot against him and because of ill-health knowingly exposed himself to the assault. “Almost all authorities, at any rate, believe that he welcomed the manner of his death…he loathed the prospect of a lingering end - he wanted a sudden one”

"Brutus believed the death of Caesar would bring a return of the old Roman spirit; unfortunately, the city was in shock, and people became increasingly more hostile. On March 17 the Senate sought a compromise with the urging of Mark Antony: While the laws of Caesar would remain intact, there would be amnesty for the conspirators. Unfortunately, peace was impossible and the conspirators fled Rome and would all ultimately meet their end. Suetonius ended his chapter on the slain leader, “All were condemned to death … and all met it in different ways - some in shipwreck, some in battle, some using the very daggers with which they had treacherously murdered Caesar to take their own lives.” For Rome the young Octavian, the adopted son of Caesar, received not only his war chest but also the support of the army. A final conflict between Mark Antony (with the help of Cleopatra) and Octavian would bring Octavian to power as Augustus, the first emperor of the Roman Empire."

Fritz said...

Then why the censorship tag? It's only private people and businesses deciding not to support something they don't approve of.

Owen said...

New York Times will make up in readership what it spends in supporting this Important Art. Which must be protected from official censorship disguised as criticism and the flight of sponsors. This is a pivotal moment in political culture as the People, Woke, speak truth to power. Please give generously, contributions are tax-deductible and at the $250 level we will send you a T-shirt showing the climactic scene.

Etc etc.

MadisonMan said...

I try to find something pithy to add. But after reading rhhardin, why bother?

(clapping in his direction) Well done!

Otto said...

I agree with Ann. Too much PM bs. It's only a play for goodness sake. In this country you should be able to say what you want and more importantly you can think what you want and take the consequences.
But going back to your 60s style tone "bullshit" is out of place for a yenta with a beautiful suburb garden and wonderful pension.

Angel-Dyne said...

Whatevs. Is it well or badly played? If the former, and I were in New York and had tickets, I'd go see it.

Theater people always have idiotic politics. Sometimes this o'er masters the production, but not always.

William said...

I think Hollywood, the music industry, Broadway, publishing should all team up and present the Trump Awards. These awards would honor the various depictions of the Trump presidency with awards going to those characterizations that inspire the most hate, ridicule, or loathing. Trump hate is going to be a major theme in American literature and entertainment. It deserves its own awards.

William said...

The Trump presidency came out of nowhere, and there's a long lead time for most movies and tv shows. I keep seeing movies and shows with a female president. They haven't caught up with the rash of events. Next year, the deluge.

Danno said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Fernandinande said...

Would thou wert clean enough to spit upon!

tcrosse said...

The Scottish Play cries out for a Hillary Clinton lookalike.

mockturtle said...

The Scottish Play cries out for a Hillary Clinton lookalike.

Boy, does it ever!

EDH said...

"You killed five actors... good ones."

wendybar said...

Otto said...
I agree with Ann. Too much PM bs. It's only a play for goodness sake. In this country you should be able to say what you want and more importantly you can think what you want and take the consequences.


And yet, a RODEO CLOWN lost his job for life, and had to take sensitivity training because he wore a "mask" of President Obama....Yep...such hypocrisy....

Matthew Sablan said...

Doesn't Brutus decide to kill Caesar, not because he has done anything wrong, but out of fear he MAY do something wrong? Isn't that the wrong message from the liberal left? Like... they do realize that the Caesar of the play REFUSED the crown, right?

Matthew Sablan said...

(This, again, is the Brutus/Caesar of the play, not the actual historical versions.)

mockturtle said...

They have every right to stage their play as they see fit. And sponsors have every right to opt out.

Jason said...

The Senate conspirators killed Caesar because he was popular with the base, and because they feared he may use his popularity with the common people to upset their apple cart.

Dust Bunny Queen said...

Private companies (so far anyway) are allowed to donate money when and where they feel like it. Patronage is not commanded. It is given. Unlike tax money which is taken.

B of A and Delta can "read the writing on the wall" and have actually taken the advice of the unseen hand......or in this case their customers and moved on.

@ EDH. Frank Drebin. One of my favorites!!!
They're going to blow that place sky high. It'll be a tragedy. Unless it's during a dance number.

mockturtle said...

Exactly, Jason. So the Trump parallel is, though unintended, appropriate.

Otto said...

@wendybar
You are correct. That is Marcusean tolerance or what i call tikkunistaism: tolerance for thee, but not for me.Very endemic of limousine liberals. Been going on since the late 60s.
Remember these liberal elites live rather conservative , although secular, lives. The "bullshit" is only a veneer.

mockturtle said...

While I believe Hamlet to be Shakespeare's best, Julius Caesar has always been my personal favorite. Its portrayal of political agenda and maneuvering is a play for the ages.

holdfast said...

The problem, obviously is the double standard.

Anything similar depicting Obama would be denounced as Wascist by one and all, and anyone participating or sponsoring would be burned out of public life. Ditto Clinton as Sexist.

But when there's a Republicsn in the WH it's full time Assasination Fascination.

Hmmm, what if Ben Carson had won the Presidency? Oh right, he's like Justice Thomas, not really black.

Comanche Voter said...

I'll go with Delta's statement. No matter what your values and political ideology may be there's an epic amount of bad taste here. And Kathy Griffin's career is still dead.

Ann Althouse said...

"Then why the censorship tag? It's only private people and businesses deciding not to support something they don't approve of."

No, "it" isn't. It's my tag, and I interpret it and, not liking tag proliferation, I want it to have a broad meaning. I use "free speech" broadly too, not limited to things involving the govt.

I would use "censorship" for things Facebook does, for example. I've written extensively on the problem of private censorship.

Now, the mere withdrawal of support could be said not to count, but I'd use "censorship" if the government were putting a tax burden or a withdrawal of spending based on viewpoint.

The Cracker Emcee said...

Meh. Once, when I was commenting on the self-crippling idiocy of neck tattoos and purple-dyed hair, a friend observed, "They're not doing it for you". The same thing is true here. It's thumb-sucking. And as lame and juvenile as it is, it's all they have. So why would I care, other than using it as a stick to beat them over the head with?

Which I'm totally cool with.

Ann Althouse said...

"But going back to your 60s style tone "bullshit" is out of place for a yenta with a beautiful suburb garden and wonderful pension."

1. "Bullshit" is an important word with a precise meaning, and I am not using it casually here (or elsewhere). My usage is informed by "On Bullshit" (2005), by philosopher Harry G. Frankfurt...

"... an essay that presents a theory of bullshit that defines the concept and analyzes the applications of bullshit in the contexts of communication. Frankfurt determines that bullshit is speech intended to persuade (a.k.a. rhetoric), without regard for truth. The liar cares about the truth and attempts to hide it; the bullshitter doesn't care if what they say is true or false, but rather only cares whether or not their listener is persuaded."

2. Since you're concerned about language, you should know that a "yenta" (OED) is: "A gossip or busybody; a noisy, vulgar person; a scolding woman or shrew." In my neighborhood, which is only "suburban" in the pre-WWII sense, I'm the opposite of a yenta. Maybe you were trying to find a way to call me an old woman. You've got the wrong word for that.

3. I cop to having a pension, but I try not to be a noisy, vulgar person about it.

Saint Croix said...

Then why the censorship tag? It's only private people and businesses deciding not to support something they don't approve of.

Sometimes private people and businesses can be complicit with the government.

Witness the routine censorship of abortion photographs by the MSM.

They are in cahoots. The people running our networks censor atrocities because they don't want to upset the abortion regime.

You sometimes see this in wartime as well, if the networks are pro-war or want to help the war effort. They voluntarily censor all atrocities and pretend like nothing bad is happening.

Sebastian said...

@wendy: ""And yet, a RODEO CLOWN lost his job for life, and had to take sensitivity training because he wore a "mask" of President Obama....Yep...such hypocrisy...." The rube should have just staged his own play, with a theatrical killing of an O look-alike. That would have been fine. "It's not a pro-assassination play!" critics across the land would have insisted, and it "seems to us the derangement cuts the other way."

rehajm said...

Delta was wise to withdraw support from the artistic equivalent of a screaming baby in seat 9B.

Static Ping said...

Ann: Was it a mistake, by the way, to murder Julius Caesar?

I'm not an expert on the subject, but from what I know about the Late Republic there was a dearth of good options. The Marius/Sulla power struggles had already shown the Republic to be dysfunctional, of which Julius was a symptom not a cause. Establishing a temporary dictatorship to re-establish republican norms had already failed. It's not clear that the rivalry between the two political factions could either be reconciled or tolerated long-term without inviting disaster.

Was it a mistake to assassinate Julius? What's your goal? If the plan was to murder the man and suddenly the Republic would be restored to its former glory with no further effort, despite the fact that there are still two rival factions at each others' throats, then it was an incredibly stupid idea. The best case was a delay of the inevitable civil war to settle this. If you are going to murder Julius, you murder Julius, you murder Antony, you dispatch of Julius's main supporters, you slander and libel Julius until he is seen as nothing but a villain, and you seize power. You should have the army lined up behind you and, if that failed, you should have an army ready to batter the Julius loyalists before they can get organized. This was a coup. The fact that the conspirators pretended it was something besides that was a fatal error.

grackle said...

Seems to me the derangement cuts the other way.

I remember when LBJ was President and there was a version of "MacBeth" that depicted LBJ. Spoiler alert: MacBeth dies. And in the Nixon era, we were encouraged to view "Richard III" as Nixon.


The contempt directed at LBJ and the contempt for Nixon and the eventual feeding frenzy that was the end of Nixon’s presidency are both examples of those eras’ versions of the Syndrome. I lived through both of those time periods.

But those were relatively minor phenomena compared to the open hatred directed toward Trump. The lies, half-truths, distortions, fake news, false narratives and idiotic memes are too numerous to be listed. Trump Derangement Syndrome has reached a level that puts it WAY beyond the two examples given.

The closest examples in history of this level of attack on a political figure that I can think of have occurred under the totalitarian regimes of the Soviet Union and of China. And those attacks were dictated by those governments. TDS has no such excuse. Trump Derangement Syndrome is entirely voluntary.

I may have misread but to cite two examples of the Syndrome from the past doesn’t logically preclude assigning it to this latest manifestation.

William said...

I don't think this play deserves a Trump Award. Julius Caesar was far too effective an executive to generate the requisite amount of hatred and ridicule. I would recommend a staging of King Lear with the Fool dressed in orange hair, a suit, and tie too long. For added poignancy, King Lear could be played by a woman in a pantsuit.....It goes without saying that all future versions of Richard III will be played by actors with orange hair and ties too long.......Just spitballing here, but how about The Merchant of Venice in Trump drag and an Ivanka look alike as Portia.

Unknown said...

I saw an excellent production of Julius Caesar last summer at the same time the Republican Convention was going on.

Undoubtedly, most of the audience, most of the actors, and indeed the friend I went with were thinking 'Trump' when considering the figure of Julius Caesar, but the production and staging did nothing to force that connection -- because they were artists and trusted the art. God bless them.

The play speaks for itself--if you try to make it merely an analogy for modern and particular circumstances rather than universal circumstances, you undermine whatever power it has.

In a sense, this media/corporate reaction is the actual play that the company was staging the whole time; they've already shown us that they don't care about the play itself -- it was just a means to this end. So, art reduced to propaganda.

What Shakespeare in the Park did was an artistic mistake I would expect from a middle school theater company. Which, I suppose, is the mental age of our arts culture at the moment.

Biotrekker said...

The Prog's misread many classic texts. Just as they refuse to acknowledge that Orwell's 1984 is about Socialism -- not Fascism -- leading to Stalinist totalitarianism, they seem to miss that Caesar's assassins are the villains in "Julius Caesar", not Julius Caesar, and that their treachery is evil and fails to restore the republic anyway.

Left Bank of the Charles said...

They should keep have gone with their first idea, which was that Julius Caesar was dragged from a plane and murdered. Sure, that would also have cost them the Delta Airlines sponsorship... that they lost anyway.

Left Bank of the Charles said...

Or they could have gone with their third idea, which would have also cast a Mike Pence lookalike for Brutus.

AReasonableMan said...

Donald Trump tells Reince Priebus he has until Independence Day to clean up White House 'dysfunction' or else he could be FIRED

How exactly does Priebus inform the boss that he is the problem?

robother said...

But what if the producers set out to lose money? Aren't Delta and BofA bailing them out by bailing out? Someday, it'll all be turned into a Broadway musical: that's where the Real Money is.

M Trumble said...

As so often happens, the left believes the rules change depending only upon their position in the corridors of power. I can remember when targets used as markers on a website Jared Loughner had never seen inspired a mass shooting. Now? Doing mock assassinations is cool again.

The Democrats are going to hate the rules they are making, as soon as someone else, someone they do not approve of, uses them. As Glenn Reynolds often says, they will miss civility when it is gone.

Professional lady said...

I really hate it when Shakespeare is staged in a way that distracts the audience and detracts from the play. It can be a fine line, but I can't imagine that if I saw this production I would be concentrating on the actual work itself or that it would lend any insight or deeper understanding.

Unknown said...

I've recently thought that Trump is more like our Gracchi than our Caesar.

As to whether killing Caesar was a good idea. Probably not, but it's not clear that even had he survived he could have set up a new stablity as his nephew did. Augustus imposed order only after a civil war created a desire for it.

David said...

Mickey Rooney as Puck! I had no idea. He's pretty good in that scene.

The Godfather said...

The NYT says that they aren't withdrawing their sponsorship because: "As an institution that believes in free speech for the arts as well as the media, we support the right of the Public Theater to stage the production as they chose." The Times never did understand free speech.

Amadeus 48 said...

They ought to have the actor playing Caesar doll up as Obama--or Hillary-- on alternate nights for the rest of the run. Be an equal opportunity offender.

"Did you get Trump?" "Nah. They did Obama tonight. Kinda makes you think."

Owen said...

Prof. A: Good to see Harry Frankfurt cited for "On Bullshit." I never laughed harder (or learned more) as I read that little gem.

Great comments on the uneasy relationship between Politics and Art. IMHO the latter is how we look at, and beyond, the former. Simplistic correspondences and lectures don't work well as art. What did audiences at the Shakespeare in the Park production learn, other than the obvious and spiteful Message? Did they get a moment in which to reflect on the nature of power, on the trajectory of hubris and nemesis that transformed Caesar the man into something terribly more? On the further tragedy of lesser men, arguing themselves into a state where they thought were saving Rome as well as their own amibitions, who thereby destroyed both?

Didn't think so.

Matthew Sablan said...

The more I think about it... is Trump as Shakespeare's Caesar REALLY what the left wants? They want to portray Trump as a man who had done no harm, who was murdered by a conspiracy of those who wanted to usurp his power, who failed in their attempted coup and brought the country to ruin?

Is that the parallel they want to draw?

The people who've performed the play probably should've at least read it.

Matthew Sablan said...

Oddly enough, Brutus is the Useful Idiot in the plot, who the evil plotters use because he is idealistic, naive and "honorable" enough for their purposes.

Otto said...

Ann you are correct, you are an old yenta ( but a teenager compared to this octogenarian).Sorry to break your pseudo-intellectual bubble : mostly gossip.

M Trumble said...

You're over thinking it Matthew Sablan. In the bubble in which they dwell, they believe seeing the President stabbed to death, even in effigy, will draw applause. They are that shallow.

M Trumble said...

Always get a bang out a "pseudo-intellectual". Otto is the sommelier of "authentic" intellectuals, don't you know.

Michael K said...

they seem to miss that Caesar's assassins are the villains in "Julius Caesar", not Julius Caesar, and that their treachery is evil and fails to restore the republic anyway.

Yes but the NY Times is unlikely to get it.

Credentialed but not educated covers it pretty well.

Drago said...

ARM: "Donald Trump tells Reince Priebus he has until Independence Day to clean up White House 'dysfunction' or else he could be FIRED"

We'll file that one right next to the -Comey would never ev-uh tell Trump he isn't under investigation-

M Trumble said...

I gave up on social media for awhile, because the TDS was just too severe to tolerate. I don't mind criticism of Trump, any more than I did criticism of Obama or Bush, but the level of crazy was ratcheted up far too high. Conversation was impossible. Trump could do no right and had to be removed or killed. End of story.
In 2009, this would not have been tolerated. There would be talk of standards, of civil discourse, of how we all need to elevate our game.

The left has gone nuts, and they will reap the whirlwind. IMO, this is too bad, because there are many legitimate criticisms of Trump, but once you go all in on "Imeach or Lynch" there isn't much wiggle room left. The Democrats are stupid as stones.

James K said...

I agree with both Matthew Sablan and M Trumble: They are that shallow, and like Kathy Griffin they do it for virtue signalling, not understanding that there are boundaries for good taste.

It's not 'censorship' to decide that a production is stupid and juvenile, as well as in poor taste and not worthy of support. Since when is financial support unconditional?

They even did a silly interpolation: Casca says, “But there’s no heed to be taken of them / if Caesar had stabbed their mothers on Fifth Avenue, they would have done no less.” Hilarious, at least to 14-year-olds.

Thorley Winston said...

Private companies (so far anyway) are allowed to donate money when and where they feel like it. Patronage is not commanded. It is given. Unlike tax money which is taken.

They shouldn’t receive any sort of tax subsidies for their patronage. If companies or individuals want to sponsor the arts, their donations should not be tax deductible nor should the recipients be exempt from any income, sales, property or other taxes. And if States and local governments choose to give them such tax breaks, the value should be imputed to them and fully taxed at the federal level.

Matthew Sablan said...

If Caesar is a bad guy... what exactly is Brutus's character arc? Do they make it more like de-programming Brutus into realizing Caesar is a bad guy and less... Cassius and the others playing on his honor and patriotism?

Because then... it is no longer a tragedy for Brutus. Brutus becomes more of a weak figure who is easily swayed by charismatic people (either the evil Cassius or the evil Caesar in this telling.)

Your tragic hero can't be tragic if he doesn't have the will to decide things on his own.

It might be *interesting*, but this isn't like the list songs in Gilbert and Sullivan's the Mikado that you can easily modernize without losing the meaning. The play is just goofy and without pathos if Brutus is just a weak willed person tugged about by evils greater than himself.

MayBee said...

I don't care what some NYC theatre troupe wants to do, but having been told we were racist for merely disagreeing with Obama's policy proposals, the double standard in the way Trump is criticized and the critics are applauded, really irks.

tcrosse said...

Épater la bourgeoisie. If you set out to piss off the squares, you shouldn't be too surprised if the squares are, indeed, pissed off.

DougWeber said...

Have they case Brutus with a Schumer lookalike?
There is deep irony here that it is not clear that the producers saw.

The result of Caeser's murder was not the return to the Republican virtues that Brutus sought but rather the dictatorship that he feared. Is this maybe a lesson for the Trump haters?

'TreHammer said...

Your can support it but nothing says you also have to pay for it.

Biff said...

If the Right were anything like the Left, they would have protesters scattered throughout the audience, and they would loudly disrupt every performance of the assassination scene until the script is changed or the play ends its run. Hey, art is about sparking conversation, right, especially those "national conversations" that the Lefties keep yammering about.

HoodlumDoodlum said...

This is the new big gotcha: Delta Was Sponsor of 2012 Guthrie Theater Season, Including Obama-Inspired Julius Ceasar

The Ceasar in that production was a taller "lanky" black man, but other than that I can't find much to indicate the Obama parallel was intentional/literal. Still, there it is.

Easy counterarguments include the fact that we've moved on in the 5 years and that sort of thing is no longer acceptable (although Giffords was shot in 2011), that corporate sponsors are more sensitive to political polarization since several "artists" have been so outspokenly (violence-embracingly) anti-Trump, and so on.

Personally I don't much care. JC is a tremendously good play and while it's instructive to place modern events and history into the incisive framework/microscope of Shakespearian genius it's just as often true that trying to do so distracts from the human truths of the play itself--makes it less valid.

HoodlumDoodlum said...

DougWeber said...The result of Caeser's murder was not the return to the Republican virtues that Brutus sought but rather the dictatorship that he feared. Is this maybe a lesson for the Trump haters?

The devil you know; violating norms, even for good reasons, means the things those norms protected you from will be fully unleashed; no man can know where the tide of popular opinion will take the ship of governance; passions unleashed cannot easily be again tamed...it's all there, for sure. Even w/o casting an orange-haired bigmouth as JC.

Owen said...

Biff @ 11:17: Those are some very useful pointers for future activism. Goose, gander. Going to mean a lot of disrupted "art," but, hey, so it goes.

Owen said...

Hoodlum Doodlum @ 11:24: "...violating norms, even for good reasons, means the things those norms protected you from will be fully unleashed; no man can know where the tide of popular opinion will take the ship of governance; passions unleashed cannot easily be again tamed...it's all there, for sure..."

Yes. I always go back to Robert Bolt's "Man For All Seasons." "Oh? And when the last law was down, and the Devil turned round on you-- where would you hide, Roper, the laws all being flat?"

These people have no idea what they are playing with.

Richard Dillman said...

Remember "McBird" or is it "MacBird." Today it is an historical footnote at best. I saw it off-Broadway in the 60's. it was very strained
and overly didactic.

This play will have limited impact politically and historically.

Speaking of literary analogues. How about Comey as Polonius or how about the entire Evergreen State debacle as "Lord of the Flies"
writ large. Where does Iago fit in? Which contemporary political figure plays Iago?

Unknown said...

So minor question: Does Chuck play the part of Brutus?

--Vance

Jim S. said...

It would be very interesting if they portrayed a different President or presidential contender every showing. It would just show how hypocritical people are. They have no problem with portraying the ones they don't like being murdered, but the ones they do like? You know what the response would be. Wasn't there a show on the Bible that had the Satan character played by someone who vaguely resembled Obama? And wasn't there a sh*t-storm over it?

mockturtle said...

Richard Dillman asks: Where does Iago fit in? Which contemporary political figure plays Iago?

Ted Cruz might be a good candidate. Just thinking of his campaign tactics.

tcrosse said...

Richard Dillman asks: Where does Iago fit in? Which contemporary political figure plays Iago?

Rahm Emanuel to Obama's Othello. At least Rahm looks the part.

Lewis Wetzel said...

Isn't art tedious when it is about politics?
Suppose the company had done MacBeth, which is about how the murder of a king is uncanny, almost blasphemous, and results in making the world a place of madness?

David Docetad said...

It seems the very same theater company was was happy to make the Tea Party the assassins back in in 2012:

http://www.theamericanconservative.com/shakesblog/obamas-ides-of-march/

Remarkable how the left will twist anything any which way to attack the right.

(link via a comment on Instapundit)

readering said...

""I think it’s despicable,” Sen. Hillary Clinton (D-N.Y.) — no fan of Dubya — said in 2007. “I think it’s absolutely outrageous. That anyone would even attempt to profit on such a horrible scenario makes me sick.”' About the British film, The Assassination of George Bush.

I wonder if Trump should arrange for the Public Theater to be hacked like Sony after the Kim movie.

AReasonableMan said...

Lewis Wetzel said...
Isn't art tedious when it is about politics?


Shakespeare was all about politics, ten plays explicitly.

Sigivald said...

You'd think they wouldn't want to portray Trump as Caesar, if only because Caesar is still respected by people worldwide - hell, people still read his books, if rarely in Latin*.

As much as Brutus equally deserves our accolades (as the Romans himself, apart from the Caesars, never really forgot, as much as they'd keep quiet about it), Caesar was no Big Bad.

(Yes, he ended the Republic.

Which was already moribund and arguably worse for Rome than the Empire, and had plunged Rome into most of a century of civil war.

There was no going back to the Republic of Cincinnatus, anyway.)

(* "All of Gaul is divided into three parts. And then the murders began.")

readering said...

The American Brutus--John Wilkes Booth.

Lewis Wetzel said...

Maybe they could do a meta "My American Cousin," with the murder of a Trump stand in as the climax. Celeb assassin Griffin could hack off his head and hold it up while the audience cheers.

rehajm said...

In the bubble in which they dwell, they believe seeing the President stabbed to death, even in effigy, will draw applause

It is the catharsis from seeing Trump die. They need the catharsis.

Achilles said...

Amadeus 48 said...
"They ought to have the actor playing Caesar doll up as Obama--or Hillary-- on alternate nights for the rest of the run. Be an equal opportunity offender.

"Did you get Trump?" "Nah. They did Obama tonight. Kinda makes you think.""

Look at the leftists here. They don't think much. You know they would have different and blatantly hypocritical views because that is what they do. They are unconscious tools.

James K said...

Shakespeare was all about politics, ten plays explicitly.

All? Hardly.

Richard Dillman said...

More literary analogues--

Who in contemporary politics would be --

Macbeth

Lady Macbeth

Ophelia

Othello


Falstaff

Others

Big Mike said...

@Richard, no one would be Othello. Othello had a deep sense of honor, and he "loved not wisely, but too well."

Big Mike said...

Back at 7:22 campy had a good idea, but let's take it farther. Let's put the entire cast in black face and have Julius Caesar wear an Obama mask. Be interesting to see what ARM and the other Lefty trolls have to say then.

readering said...

Robert Downey Junior not available.

TestTube said...

Darn it Ann, I was just getting around to watching MacBeth, and you gotta spoil it.

Way to spoil Shakespeare for me, a loyal reader who never causes any trouble in the comments threat, Ann.

TestTube said...

comments thread, I mean

Virtually Unknown said...

It's not a pro-assassination play!

I think that Scott Adams would differ with you regarding this production, perhaps not the original. It's assassination porn. Maybe you are correct though, maybe it was produced as a warning to fellow lefties that they are going overboard on all of this Trump hatred. I bet that's it!

Virtually Unknown said...

Bill Clinton is Falstaff, obviously.

gregq said...

It's a production of "Julius Caesar," done in modern dress with the dictator styled as Trump. What's deranged? Why should we not think about the ideas presented by the historical play as they might related to our current situation. It's not a pro-assassination play!

What's deranged?

1: It's assassination porn. The purpose of this is to give their crowd the chance to cheer at Trump being assassinated, nothing more
2: The pretense that this is about "art", and that therefore someone could have done this with Clinton, or Obama, in the staring role, is even more deranged.

As 17thCenturyShytepost‏ @17cShyteposter posted on Twitter, Replying to @JeffersonObama
If the Left did not want to also be shot by these new political Weapons, perhaps they should not have invented them.

It's a bit late in the game to be complaining about something like this. When Hollywood, "public arts", etc. start doing this to leftists, let us know. until then, there are no one way streets: if it's not being done for us, we're going to attack anyone doing it against us.

The rules are the same for everybody, or else there are no rules

Tank said...

Alinsky.

gregq said...

Here's a article that talks about the rodeo clown who had his livelihood destroyed by CNN because he wore an Obama mask (he'd previously worn Reagan and Bush masks):

http://www.dailywire.com/news/17021/cnn-got-rodeo-clown-fired-cnn-still-employs-kathy-john-nolte#

Proper justice would be the complete destruction of the lives of either
1: Every single person who pushed against that rodeo clown (which starts with CNN going out of business)
2: Every person involved in the Trump assassination play

Pick one. But, as Ace says over at ace.mu.nu we refuse to be second class citizens. Either the right gets free speech, or the left doesn't either. That that means either the people who spent 8 years attacking anyone who didn't bow down to Obama now get destroyed, or else anyone who commits lese majeste against Trump gets what we all got.

That's not because I love Trump (I don't), it's because the same rules MUST apply to everyone. And saying "just kidding, rules are changed" doesn't cut it

Ken B said...

It's not a surprise, there is no suspense about what will happen. It's just a money-shot for hate-porn.

Virtually Unknown said...

"And saying "just kidding, rules are changed" doesn't cut it"

That's why they never say it, they just do it.

Drago said...

ARM: "Shakespeare was all about politics, ten plays explicitly."

No one cares about dead, white European males anymore.

At least that's what the left keeps insisting.

Virtually Unknown said...

It's not like adherence to Shakespeare's intentions is a universally held dictum with the modern theater. Just look at The Taming of the Shrew. It is always played ironically now, if at all, since that is what politics requires. Why wouldn't they play this one ironically as well?

Matthew Sablan said...

"That's not because I love Trump (I don't), it's because the same rules MUST apply to everyone. And saying "just kidding, rules are changed" doesn't cut it"

-- The best way to get a bad rule changed is rigorous enforcement.

Richard Dillman said...

Allan Bloom, author of "The Closing of the American Mind ," wrote "Shakespeare's Politics," Univ. of Chicago, 1996. He agrees with some ideas expressed here or some of us agree with him at times.

tcrosse said...

Did Shakespeare write anything in which a fallen Queen flies into a drunken rage and chokes to death on her own vomit ? I'm thinking a Hillary look-alike here. It would be Boffo.

Michael Fitzgerald said...

grackle said...
The closest examples in history of this level of attack on a political figure that I can think of have occurred under the totalitarian regimes of the Soviet Union and of China. And those attacks were dictated by those governments. TDS has no such excuse. Trump Derangement Syndrome is entirely voluntary.
6/12/17, 9:10 AM

Actually, these anti-Trump dirlewangers are being dictated by the government. The democrat party and its leaders like Hillary Clinton announcing that she's leading "The Resistance", Chuck Schumer plotting with democrat party conspirators in the Intelligence and Law Enforcement Communities, daily jeremiads by democrat party members like Maxine Waters, Howard Dean, Adam Schiff, Nancy Pelosi, etc. We know that with rare exception the US media colludes with the democrat party to promote their "messaging". Have you heard one single democrat condemn the violence and rioting and incivility of their fellow party members? The only one was Dennis Kucinich and that was the last we heard from him. You are absolutely correct when you say that this is the demagoguery and incitement that one sees in China and the USSR. The democrat party in America is the fruit of the Communist Party International.

The Godfather said...

My primary objection to making Shakespeare "relevant" to modern audiences this way is that it spoils the plays. If the production makes Caesar = Trump, then all your opinions about Trump get larded into the character of Caesar, but that isn't the character that Shakespeare created. A lot of the comments on this thread recognize that, and criticize this production for that reason. The same is true if you equate MacBeth with Nixon, or Othello with Obama, or King Lear with -- OK I can't think of a major political figure who voluntarily gave up power. NO! Yes I can. Theodore Roosevelt promising not to run for re-election.

Shakespeare undoubtedly had current and historical politics in mind in many of his plays. Those plays have survived for more than 4 centuries because what he wrote was more universal than those politics. Let's not screw that up.

Somewhat off topic, but I recall a production of the Scottish Play set in the 1930's with the principal characters presented as gangsters of that era. It worked reasonably well until the end when on the battlefield MacBeth calls out to his adversary: Lay on MacDuff, and damned be he who first cries Hold, enough! And, instead of the contenders clashing their swords, they both pull pistols from their shoulder holsters. And exeunt stage left.

readering said...

News report:

BroadwayWorld has learned that in their 2012 season, during which Delta Airlines was a Business Circle sponsor - The Guthrie Theater in Minneapolis presented an Obama inspired Julius Caesar co-produced with The Acting Company.

Though information on the level of financing Delta contributed for the year 2012 was unavailable, this year they donated between $100,000 and $249,000 to the Gurtrie Theater.

MSP Mag described the production in a review: "And, because Caesar is cast as a tall, lanky black man, the Obama inference is a bit too obvious. But it fits, sort of. Like Caesar, Obama rose to power on a tide of public goodwill; like Caesar, there were many in government who doubted Obama's leadership abilities; and now that Obama's first term has failed to live up to the messianic hype, there are plenty of people who-for the good of the country, you understand, not their own glory-want to take Obama down."

Twin Cities Daily Planet also made the Obama connection, writing "In this Caesar, Julius and his inner circle are dressed in crisp business suits, Bjorn DuPaty cutting an unmistakably Obama-like figure as the eponymous ruler."

This production would have also featured assassination of a figure resembling the current President of the United States.

A Guthrie representative told BroadwayWorld that "Delta was a season sponsor of our mainstage season that year; the support didn't include productions in the Dowling Studio, which is where JULIUS CAESAR was produced."

Ray said...

Very strange. Charlie Martin had a good write up of how Julius Caesar was the hero.
https://pjmedia.com/lifestyle/2017/06/12/brush-up-your-shakespeare/

I just saw the play by the Long Beach Shakespeare Company Saturday night, very tiny theater. And last night I went line by line through Marc Anthony's speech with my wife. We finally used the collected works of Shakespeare we bought 30 years ago! I also researched what actually happened, vs. the play's version. Real life was a lot more confusing and bloodier than the play. Amazing that Octavia / Augustus got the Roman Empire mostly peaceful for 200 years.

If your in So. CA, good play to catch. Discount tickets available via Goldstar. Reminds me, I should leave a review.

grackle said...

Actually, these anti-Trump dirlewangers are being dictated by the government … You are absolutely correct when you say that this is the demagoguery and incitement that one sees in China and the USSR …

On official, public hate campaigns by the government against political figures, like those in the aforementioned regimes: We are not there yet. We got closer with Obama using government agencies to spy on political opponents and his weaponizing government agencies to surreptitiously throttle dissent.

But all that was covert, things they are now desperately trying to cover up, or failing that, to brazen it out. Obama spying? Ignored by the MSM. The FBI Director a leaker? No problem. And the manipulation by the FBI Director to get a Special Counselor appointed? Fine and dandy. Yes, the eGOP, the MSM and the Democrats are all allied against Trump but they are not the government.

I’ll admit the “demagoguery and incitement” in the current political arena cited by the commentor has the same bitter taste and putrid smell of the Soviet and Chinese examples, filtered and cultivated in a unique American sensibility and worldview.

What’s kind of chilling is the thought that the power of the government may not be needed to perform this type of baleful political ostracization. The MSM, academia, the intelligentsia and the eGOP may be all that is required. Propaganda works even when it is known to be happening.

I think the ones who matter do not really want to impeach – only to impede Trump’s economic agenda. The eGOP is hoping they can peel away Trump supporters and force Trump out of office – a la Nixon, but the Left wants to impeach and give him jail-time. Matters may get out of hand.

I have no idea what form it might take but if the anti-Trumpers succeed I think there will be a major backlash effect. Trump is himself a living, breathing backlash. What happens when a backlash is ignored? What happens when a backlash is treated with contempt? I hope we do not find out.

Josephbleau said...

readering said...
The American Brutus--John Wilkes Booth.

6/12/17, 12:51 PM

Yes, Booth was a Democrat who killed a Republican President.

readering said...

One way to analyze it.

readering said...

Thanks for the tip on the Long Beach Shakespeare Company. Perhaps I can make it after attending a lecture at the Getty Villa that afternoon, The Virtues of Violence: Amphitheaters, Gladiators and the Roman System of Values. (We have improved somewhat in two millennia.)

Zach said...

Did nobody notice that Caesar is the hero of that play? Young, charismatic, popular, and he has all the best lines.

Zach said...

It's a bit odd (or maybe revealing?) to cast a Republican as Caesar. The Roman Republic doesn't map perfectly onto modern politics, but Caesar was young, charismatic, slept around, and built his political support by throwing vast sums of money at the common people. His opponents called themselves the "opimates" (the "best") and represented the oldest, richest, and most distinguished families in Rome.

If you want to cast a President as Caesar, you should choose JFK! That's even before you get to the uncomfortable assassination parallels.

James K said...

OK I can't think of a major political figure who voluntarily gave up power.

George Washington?

readering said...

Caesar 55 at his death, same age as Obama now.

readering said...

. . . and about the same as Lincoln.

gregq said...

Matthew Sablan said...
"That's not because I love Trump (I don't), it's because the same rules MUST apply to everyone. And saying "just kidding, rules are changed" doesn't cut it"

-- The best way to get a bad rule changed is rigorous enforcement.

Exactly.

Until the Left viciously turns on the Speech Police even in the places they control, they need to be nailed by all their rules.

No "truce". No "disarmament". They must admit "it was wrong, we were wrong." Until they do, hit them with it to the fullest.

Because anything less will let them bring it back.

Virtually Unknown said...

Maybe it's worth a trip to NYC to see it. Maybe everybody cheers when Trump is killed, but have been left with the intellectual seeds to question their blood lust.

Too bad "Snipers Wanted" ads and severed heads have sort of intruded their intertextual snouts into the production like the pooping puppy and "Fearless Girl."

Virtually Unknown said...

The Trump analogy doesn’t hold up once Caesar is assassinated on his way to the Senate and is lauded in dueling eulogies, powerfully delivered here by Corey Stoll’s deeply sympathetic Brutus and Elizabeth Marvel’s cunning Marc Antony. In death, his open bleeding wounds on full public view, the tyrant has become a god. (But the insolent impersonation was fun while it lasted.) - Variety

So the play falls apart when the tedious lectures begin and the "fun" ends. Funny that that is exactly what I assumed would be the case as soon as I heard "Trump" and "Julius Caesar" in the same sentence. It's not like these guys are predictable though. Nosiree1

mockturtle said...

OK I can't think of a major political figure who voluntarily gave up power.

George Washington?


Washington never wanted the job in the first place.

Ken B said...

"Did nobody notice that Caesar is the hero of that play? Young, charismatic, popular, and he has all the best lines."

Yes. Which is why we know the production is all about the money-shot.