June 13, 2017

"What else can they do?... Send some weasel out to do a faux Shakespearean we-mean-no-harm prologue...?"

I asked yesterday, speaking about the Public Theater's production of "Julius Caesar," which is losing sponsors because of the depiction of Julius Caesar as Donald Trump.

What else can they do? They thought of this:

"The Public took the 'we do not condone this production' statements, printed them out, and put them in people's Playbills tonight."



AND: My "weasel" suggestion also made it:



Via the NYT, which says:
Shortly after the presidential election, Oskar Eustis, one of New York’s most successful theater executives, knew what he wanted to do. He would direct a production of Shakespeare’s “Julius Caesar,” with the title character a provocative but inexact stand-in for President Trump.

Mr. Eustis was not alone. All over the country, from Oklahoma to Oregon, theaters have been staging “Julius Caesar” this year....
Yes, it's a hackneyed idea. 
[Last night] Mr. Eustis [devoted] his opening-night speech to a full-throated defense of the theater’s mission, which he urged audience members at the outdoor Delacorte Theater to record on their cellphones and share. “When we hold the mirror up to nature,” he said, “often what we reveal are disturbing, upsetting, provoking things. Thank God. That’s our job.”
It seems to me that theater should disturb, upset, and provoke the audience in the theater, not show them the things they already firmly believe are disturbing, upsetting, and provoking. So I'd say you are not doing your job. You're presenting hatred of Donald Trump in the center of Manhattan. Don't preen, and don't bring God into it. You've got "the mirror." Look at yourself. 

124 comments:

MadisonMan said...

"We apologize if you were offended"

rehajm said...

Methinks it is like a weasel...

David Begley said...

The theatre people are at fault. Bad judgment. Hating Trump has consequences.

Virtually Unknown said...

If they play it straight, it's a "teachable moment" for the Trump deranged. I have come around on this one in favor of WS.

LilyBart said...

This was just 'assassination porn'. The left hates Trump and this petty Shakespeare interpretation makes their tiny little hearts feel good - it comforts them. I'm generally against censorship, but I cannot imagine that any reputable company would wish to associate their brand with these sophomoric and highly divisive antics.

Patrick said...

The Boston Federalist Society also did a production of Julius Caesar.
https://aclum.org/events/shakespeare-law-julius-caesar/

LilyBart said...

MadisonMan said...
"We apologize if you were offended"


They're trying to have it both ways - they don't want to anger the left by removing their support while trying to placate the offended by trying to distance themselves from the content. Usually you lose both groups this way.

Honestly, I hate that commerce has become so hyper-politicized. I don't want to have to check a company's political speech before buying products! Heineken is for open boarders, Chick-fil-A for traditional values - sheesh, people, this is wearing me out!

Owen said...

Regain: "methinks it is like a weasel."

Aye, very like. But sir, is it not also much like a worm?

MadisonMan said...

Re: that video: Is there anything more toxic in a theater setting than people holding up phones to record?

Were I a tony-award winning actor, I'd have a clause in my contract: If I see a phone out during my performance, I will leave. And I'd leave by way of ratting out the person with the phone, and telling the audience exactly why the performance was being cut short.

Owen said...

Typo. "regain" should be "rehajm."

*mutters, slinks off.*

Kate said...

That they feel they must apologize or explain -- there's the win. Trump has made them fear for their funding. In the past they'd have shrugged at the neanderthal Right and displayed the next PissChrist.

Bob Ellison said...

Oh, please. "No public funding". Are lefties just stupid? Do they know that money is the ultimate fungible asset?

Hey, guys, money is money. You spend it where you want to.

tds said...

They compared Trump to Julius Ceasar. Big PR win for Trump.

Also, who is Brutus?

Henry said...

I went to the Public Theatre's performance of the Taming of the Shrew last Summer. They cast one of the bit roles (Hortensio, I think) as a Donald Trump parody. It was very funny -- but that was back when everyone thought Trump would lose, so bombastic parody was enough. In the end, even the the surrealist scenery, all-female cast, and some glorious scene-chewing could not rescue the play from itself. It's pretty sadistic. Shakespeare's bear-baiting period.

Henry said...

The Variety review I linked above mentions one of the Trump scenes (a beauty contest).

Stephen said...

Caesar should have been made up to look like Bernie, and at the climactic moment "Et tu, Debbie?" would have resonated with the audience and have been in the spirit of Shakespeare. They missed their chance.

MisterBuddwing said...

Would a President Obama-as-Julius Caesar play make anyone happy?

http://www.startribune.com/trump-themed-julius-caesar-is-talk-of-theater-world-unlike-2012-obama-version-in-twin-cities/427990033/

Rene Saunce said...

we do not condone...but... carry on with the Trump execution. It's all good.


Where's the Hillary rape scene? or the Obama cap in his ass scene? oh right, that would be too much.

Fernandinande said...

I'd pay more to avoid an opera than I would to avoid a play.

Quayle said...

Ladies and gentlemen, before we begin tonight's performance, we would like to read a short message from the production team and cast members:

"Ladies and gentlemen, dear friends and supporters of our theater, while we ourselves take our art very seriously, we would like to take this opportunity to encourage you to not take our art seriously at all. And while we are totally dependent upon donations from capitalist pig-dogs to produce these meaningless dramatizations of import and substance, this in no way lessons our determination to oppose, with and through our art, these same capitalist pig-dogs (who only take from the poor and downtrodden and give nothing in return except these plays, and perhaps some other services or products we all use) - to oppose them in pursuit of a more just in merciful society. As Comrade Lennon.... uh.....as one patron of political murder.......shows - murder shows- .... has said, these capitalist pig-dogs will donate to our theater the very money which we use to hang ourselves - uh...... we mean: to hang them.

We hope you enjoy tonight's performance which in no way has any serious meaning and consequence, but which it is our privilege to bring to you in all earnestness.

Laslo Spatula said...

Maybe some theater group can do a series.

"Cat On a Hot Tin Roof" with Bill and Hillary Clinton.

"The Death of a Salesman" with Richard Nixon.

I'll let Althouse pick the play for the Obamas.

I am Laslo.

Larry J said...

When a rodeo clown wore an Obama mask, that was an outrage! When a play depicts the assassination of Trump, that's art. They also depicted the assassination of George W. Bush about 10 years ago. Again, that's art because shut up.

Paul said...

I am sure Brutus "meant no harm" to stabbing Caesar to.....

They are just a bunch of pseudo-wannabe-terrorist.

Laslo Spatula said...

Margaret "Maggie" Pollitt: You can be young without money, but you can't be old without it.


Brick Pollitt: I don't have to do anything I don't want to! Now, you keep forgetting the conditions on which I agreed to stay on living with you.
Margaret "Maggie" Pollitt: I'm not living with you! We occupy the same cage, that's all.


Brick Pollitt: But, how in hell on earth can you imagine you're gonna have a child with a man who cannot stand you.


I am Laslo.

Virtually Unknown said...

The Obama as Julius Caesar was truer to the intent of the play, with Caesar being killed by lesser men. The men who killed the Obama Caesar were wearing business suits, and probably played the eulogies more convincingly.

I have come here to bury Caesar, not to praise him. The evil that men do is remembered after their deaths,

Is probably the last applause line in this production, but the beginning of the Christ-like resurrection of Caesar's reputation, anyway, in the Obama as Caesar play, where the assassins feel properly ashamed of their heinous deed, I am just guessing that the murderers in the Trump version are more like farm kinds acting ashamed of getting caught drinking moonshine behind the barn. Wink wink.

Robert Cook said...

The problem of depicting Julius Caesar as Donald Trump is not that it is insulting to Trump--his every action and utterance is a self-indictment--but that it trivializes the play, making it a simple cartoon of today's transient political personalities. Simply present the play without the gimmicky and obvious contemporary staging and let viewers draw their own analogies, if there are analogies to be legitimately made.

LordSomber said...

“When we hold the mirror up to nature,” he said, “often what we reveal are disturbing, upsetting, provoking things. Thank God. That’s our job.”

How boringly self-important.

"We're just holding a mirror up to society, maaan."

MadisonMan said...

Mr. Eustis [devoted] his opening-night speech to a full-throated defense of the theater’s mission

Barf. Preening and virtue signaling before a theater production.

"Look how cool we are!!!"

Henry said...

They need a very tall actor to portray Brutus as Comey.

RonF said...

The funeral oration of the play defends Julius Caesar for the good that he did, asking that people consider the good to outweigh his faults. It condemns Brutus and his co-conspirators. It's a central point of the play. I wonder if this production preserved that. If it didn't, it's not Shakespeare.

Todd said...

Isn't it funny how "assassination porn" of the POTUS is restricted to Republican Presidents? I mean, there were no movies or plays of Obama or Clinton betting "whacked" were there. Not burning effigies of Clinton or Obama. It isn't like these folks didn't each get around half the country voting for them. So there were relatively equal numbers of folks that supported each.

Once could ALMOST draw the conclusion that one group of citizens have less respect for the Office of the President than the other. That one group of citizens have less decorum than the other. Less self control, dare I say?

Apparently #resist has been a thing for a number of years now and pre-dates the hashtag...

David said...

Oh, the courage. Standing up in New York spouting what all your peers expect you to spout.

The fear of excommunication remains a powerful force.

Dave from Minnesota said...

Honestly, I hate that commerce has become so hyper-politicized. I don't want to have to check a company's political speech before buying products! Heineken is for open boarders, Chick-fil-A for traditional values - sheesh, people, this is wearing me out!

I will still spend money at a business that has political views different from mine. Why lower my lifestyle? I love Half Price Books even though they put political signs in the window of their front doors. Anti-2nd amendment rights and pro-open borders.

The exception is if a business goes out of their way to make a political statement. I take that more personal. So General Mills sponsoring gay weddings...their way of giving a big F.U. to traditional marriage advocates, or Target making a public statement about allowing men to use the girls bathrooms and dressing rooms. Again, it wasn't really about who can use what bathroom, but it was Target's way of making a political statement on the issue.

Owen said...

Brutus:

There is a tide in the affairs of men.
Which, taken at the flood, leads on to fortune;
Omitted, all the voyage of their life
Is bound in shallows and in miseries.
On such a full sea are we now afloat,
And we must take the current when it serves,
Or lose our ventures.

On just such a sea are the Public Theater, the sponsors and these players now afloat. Brutus' speech is about nothing so much as the "intentionality" these people praise. They like Brutus are following a tragic arc and must be seen as intending exactly what has happened. Like Brutus they will fight to overcome the circumstances they have invoked.

Like Brutus, they will lose. Unlike him, they will lose dishonorably. Watch them squirm and disavow.

MisterBuddwing said...


I mean, there were no movies or plays of Obama or Clinton betting "whacked" were there.

Maybe, maybe not. I'm afraid I can't claim to have seen this obviously fine film"

http://touch.latimes.com/#section/-1/article/p2p-93562323/

The Cracker Emcee said...


""Look how cool we are!!!""

Yes. I know it's been said ten thousand times, but how does the Left not understand that they're actually encouraging what they profess to despise. The preening is repellent but the stupidity is hilarious. The Vanguard of Socialism as junior high school girls.

Known Unknown said...

Maybe they should do Much Ado About Nothing with Benghazi as the backdrop.

Michael K said...

I long for the days of "Ford to NY: Drop Dead !"

Tech shares are down big time this week.

It's the radial tire phenomenon again.

Who needs and iPhone 7 ?

M Jordan said...

Read Poe's "The Masque of the Red Death." We are at 11:59:59 in the media/swamp castellated abbey ... and the Red Death is in the building.

Translation: Trump hatred is about to destroy them.

traditionalguy said...

I dare the little shots to put on The Merchant of Venice in Manhattan.

Shakespeare was a man of his time. Julius Ceasar was written and played to condemn Regicide. These little shots celebrate Regicide like Hamas does every time it publicly hand kills a captured IDF soldier in a celebration of Islamic murder lust.

The Merchant of Venice was written highlighting the popular Catholic Church antisemitism of its day. It celebrates defeating a heartless and maniacally clever Jewish Banker's attempt to murder a good man. And the audience is meant to cheer when the Evil Jew is destroyed.

Roy Jacobsen said...

It seems odd to me that none of these theatre people paused long enough to realize that the guys stabbing Caesar/Trump aren't the heroes of the play.

Matthew Sablan said...

Did they yet address the fact the play doesn't work as a tragedy if Caesar is a known, irredeemable villain? Brutus is no longer a tragic hero; he's a failed hero who fails to save the Republic, despite doing what was necessary, as opposed to the agent of the Republic's destruction due to being fooled by Cassius's astro-turf campaign to turn him against the legitimate ruler who, by the way, had rejected being the king.

Matthew Sablan said...

"I am sure Brutus "meant no harm" to stabbing Caesar to....."

-- Pretty sure his was the deepest of cuts.

Peter said...

"“When we hold the mirror up to nature,” he said, “often what we reveal are disturbing, upsetting, provoking things. Thank God. That’s our job.”

A good deal of the annoyance (yes, annoyance < outrage) is their failure to acknowledge how selective the image in their "mirror" is.

It's not as if everyone doesn't know that they'd never, ever put any reliably Liberal-to-Left Democratic president in the Julius Caesar role, after all. Or even that the New York arts world doesn't tilt far to the left of Democrats. Which is to say, their "mirror" is not even a mirror with distortions but something entirely different (a massive video display made to look like a mirror, perhaps).

Which is at least semi-fine so long as everything is performed in a private venue, and privately funded (but not so fine at all when that's not the case). Unless those who control the public venues and funding can show that they are truly open to all viewpoints, of course.

(What makes it only "semi-"fine is the failure to acknowledge that their "mirror" is nothing of the sort. Much as the New York Times still pretends to be an objective news source when it's all too obviously not, points are deducted from the fineness for such gross dishonesty.)


Sebastian said...

"It seems to me that theater should disturb, upset, and provoke the audience in the theater, not to show them the things they already firmly believe are disturbing, upsetting, and provoking. So I'd say you are not doing your job. You're presenting hatred of Donald Trump in the center of Manhattan. Don't preen, and don't bring God into it. You've got "the mirror." Look at yourself."

Uh, no. The point of modern art is ├ępater les bourgeois--and les bourgeois, as Sartre didn't say, c'est les autres. Progs disturbed about the right things are right to want their disturbance confirmed. Art is a tool in prog politics, the theater a weapon in the culture war. The left doesn't look in the mirror; they keep their eyes focused on the enemy.

RAH said...

The parallels were obvious Directors like to produce plays that have current resonance so this was an obvious choice. That is fine. It is also fine that sponsors choose to pull funding After all what plays in NYC does not play in Peoria

LilyBart said...

Peter said...A good deal of the annoyance (yes, annoyance < outrage) is their failure to acknowledge how selective the image in their "mirror" is.

True.

bgates said...

How do you suppose they'd react if Mike Pence came to see this one?

RAH said...

A previous comment also noted that in the play Julius Caesar, the killers are not heroes , they are villains Caesar is betrayed So this does not show Trump in a bad light It shows the cheerers in that bad light

bgates said...

You know what would be "challenging"? A production of Othello where the lead has big ears, carries a golf club, and always has SportsCenter on in the background, and Desdemona is dressed as the Statue of Liberty.

Sebastian said...

"So this does not show Trump in a bad light It shows the cheerers in that bad light." True, if text and original meaning matter. AA noted this yesterday. But that is not how it plays. It occurred to no edgy artist to stage Caesar with an O-like character just to vilify the killers. It would have been seen as a con assassination fantasy, just as is this is an assassination fantasy.

HoodlumDoodlum said...

It'd be sickening if it weren't so funny--faux-brave Leftists praising themselves for their fake courage while firmly surrounded by their fellow Leftists (no doubt all brimming with pride at their open-mindedness and love of diversity).

Let's go for something actually shocking, though. How about Trump as Titus Andronicus with Hillary as Tamora? You could even work Obama in as Aaron, there--that'd stir things up!
Or, I dunno, maybe Trump as Coriolanus? You could put Putin as Aufidius, really mix it up.

David Blaska said...


Mayor: "Drebin, I don't want anymore trouble like you had last year on the South Side. Understand? That's my policy."
Lt. Frank Drebin: "Yes. Well, when I see 5 weirdos dressed in togas stabbing a guy in the middle of the park in full view of 100 people, I shoot the bastards. That's *my* policy."
Mayor: "That was a Shakespeare-In-The-Park production of "Julius Caesar", you moron! You killed 5 actors! Good ones."

Good ones!

Ken B said...

Ann's take here is exactly right.

Owen said...

bgates: "...if Mike Pence came..."

Brilliant. But you owe me a keyboard.

Rae said...

They could apologize (to Trump) and make a donation to a Trump favored charity.

Birches said...

Has anyone seen this interview on how to talk to the White Working Class?

I think our New York betters need a better mirror. These guys don't have a clue.

Etienne said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
CWJ said...

"A previous comment also noted that in the play Julius Caesar, the killers are not heroes , they are villains Caesar is betrayed So this does not show Trump in a bad light It shows the cheerers in that bad light."

That presupposes that the audience and even the actors understand the play's deeper meaning beyond the mere action on stage. The actual staging of this productiuon suggests otherwise. But wouldn't it be deliciously subversive if in fact the producers intent is to subtly encourage their audience to dispassionately reflect upon the effectiveness of their knee jerk hatred. I think Parker and Stone would be capable of this.

Sadly, I can't square the latter interpretation with the production's reaction to the criticism.

J. D. said...

I'm sorry if this is redundant, but all this talk of Shakespeare in the Park performing Julius Caesar reminds me of The Naked Gun.

https://www.bing.com/videos/search?q=The+naked+gun+Shakespeare+in+the+park&view=detail&mid=0C1B4F62971C9B9B5BC50C1B4F62971C9B9B5BC5&FORM=VRRTAP&ts=1497365916764&nclid=1138044C658D72CE9BC8B8EE040AE649

ddh said...

The reason the play's full title is "The Tragedy of Julius Caesar" is because Caesar is the tragic hero, not the villain who gets his just deserts. The villain is Cassius.

William said...

You could easily make a PC version of Julius Caesar with an Obama figure in the title role. Just give the senators southern accents. If they wanted to trip up their critics, they could present alternate versions. They could be even handed in their bias. On one hand we hate Trump, but, on the other hand, we love Obama.........It's always the dogs that don't bark. Every time I see a versions of Richard III set in modern dress, he's always presented in fascist drag, or, sometimes, as an oil executive. He's never presented as Fidel or Chavez or some leftist figure.

traditionalguy said...

Yon Comey is a lean and hungry man, for sure.

Unknown said...

Broadway's a cesspool anyway.

Consider the Book of Mormon musical. Openly meant to mock and hate on Mormons, though apparently there are some redeeming points (Parker and Stone have a weird respect for Mormons, in a way: the South Park approved version of the afterlife is that only Mormons go to heaven).

The LDS church didn't riot, scream, etc. They bought advertisements in the playbill: "Now that you've seen the play, why not read the actual book?" And in fact several people have taken the LDS church up on the offer.

--Vance

tim maguire said...

There is plenty to hate about political art (I have a rant if anyone's interested), but the thing I hate most of all is the pretense of courage and daring behind a message that is completely safe and conventional in the forum in which it is displayed.

Thorley Winston said...

How do you suppose they'd react if Mike Pence came to see this one?

They’d probably add a scene where Marc Antony refuses to be alone with Cleopatra unless his wife is present.

(sorry, couldn’t resist ;) )





Jay Elink said...

MisterBuddwing said...

Would a President Obama-as-Julius Caesar play make anyone happy?

http://www.startribune.com/trump-themed-julius-caesar-is-talk-of-theater-world-unlike-2012-obama-version-in-twin-cities/427990033/
************************************************

Yes, Caesar is tall and black in that Minneapolis-St. Paul production, but if you go to the linked original review for the show, Obama's name isn't mentioned at all, AND the article received ZERO comments. Not a word of complaint.

In a newspaper published in a historically progressive town, home to Mondale, Wellstone, Gene McCarthy, Humphrey....
.

NYC's Caesar-as-Trump, OTOH is depicted with the trademark blonde hair and day-glo complexion. Right away , YOU KNOW who Caesar is supposed to be.

It's a distinction WITH a difference, IMHO.

CWJ said...

tim maguire,

Same here. Only I had to live through several years of the KC Rep persistently billing itself as "Fearless Theatre" right down to how they answered the phone.

Matthew Sablan said...

I always thought Brutus was the tragic hero of the piece; he's the one who is laid low due to his own actions and hubris. Caesar is murdered by others; Brutus is ruined by his own belief that his judgment and honor were better and more pure than others.

Darrell said...

Fuck the cocksucking Left.

The Dems think that their recent spate of profanity has increased their popularity, according to their polls. So this should have the opposite effect.

TWW said...

"They were going to cast JC as a Black President with big ears who may or may not have been born in Rome. But they were afraid of losing the support of the NYT.

Richard said...

Mr. Budwing
I mean, there were no movies or plays of Obama or Clinton betting "whacked" were there.

Maybe, maybe not. I'm afraid I can't claim to have seen this obviously fine film"

http://touch.latimes.com/#section/-1/article/p2p-93562323/


I was curious why I had never heard of this before so I looked up the movie reviews. IMDb said nothing about this "Obama assassination on film". I next looked at the Wikipedia description of the Kingsman film. Again nothing. Finally I looked at the Roger Ebert movie review. Surely a good lefty like Mr. Ebert would have condemned this attack on President Obama. Again absolutely nothing was mentioned about it. So I have to believe this was an attempt at a "they did it too" justification. The funny thing is that one of the stars of the movie is Samuel L. Jackson. If a movie with Samuel Jackson in it really depicted the assassination of Obama, then it would truly have been an Et tu, Brute moment.

Dave from Minnesota said...

Vance, was it Milwaukee? When the Book of Mormon was being performed, some actual members of the church did hand out info on the LDS outside the venue.

Can you mock other religions? Can you even make a truthful show about other religions? A cable company was going to film a scripted series about Somalian in Minneapolis who joined terrorist groups. They want to film it on location in the Cedar-Riverside neighborhood. Guess what? Local Muslim population threaten jihad on the film crews. Filming cancelled.

n.n said...

Disclaimer: Elective abortion is a safe and rare medical procedure applied to colorful, gender agnostic clumps of cells. The evolution of babies aborted and/or cannibalized in Planned Parenthood corporate offices were deemed unviable and reclassified as colorful clumps of cells by leading human and civil rights organizations, liberal judges, the Pro-Choice Church, sexually active mothers and fathers, and good people.

Unknown said...

Dave from Minnesota: No, the LDS church pretty much advertises now wherever the Book of Mormon musical goes. I suspect some local members do missionary work as well.

Might as well, right? Better than going stabby stabby like some religions do. And that includes leftists when they are mocked.

--Vance

Robert Cook said...

"Broadway's a cesspool anyway."

The Public Theater is not on Broadway and is not a "Broadway theater," as it were, and it's productions are not considered "Broadway shows." It is Off Broadway, (downtown in the East Village, in fact).

Mary said...

What's going on here? They did the same production with Obama in 2012 and it was not an issue "“Because Caesar is cast as a tall, lanky black man, the Obama inference is a bit too obvious,” wrote MSP Mag of the actor, Bjorn DuPaty. “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.”
https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/arts-and-entertainment/wp/2017/06/12/delta-pulled-funding-from-a-trump-esque-julius-caesar-but-not-for-an-obama-like-version-in-2012

Birches said...

Vance, I heard one of them (Parker or Stone) was baptized as a child in the LDS Church. I don't know how much stock I put into "used to be Mormon" rumors, but I did hear it in CO where people are more likely to know.

Christopher said...

I know this point has been made by others, but it bears repeating: the harshest condemnation the play brings is against the conspirators. Caesar's position is tricky--you can make a case for his integrity, or his dangerous egotism--but Caesar's gone halfway through the play and the quality of is character no longer matters. It's those who get caught up in their own self-righteousness and assure themselves of the rightness of their actions who get their comeuppance. Brutus is so sure that he's doing the right thing that he has the conspirators dip their hands in blood to show the people exactly what they've done. He's so devoted to his political norms that he can't see the degree to which he himself has broken them. Isn't that exactly "the mirror" you're describing?

Right-wing critics want to make this another example of liberal outrage machine run amok, but it's exactly the opposite: they're the ones whose outrage is out of proportion.

Kirk Parker said...

Vance,

Re your comments on the Book of Mormon musical: I actually know a couple people who became Christians after hearing Madeline Murray O'Hare speak. It was sort of a reverse of that famous scene from When Harry Met Sally ("I'll have the opposite of what she's having").

James K said...

It's those who get caught up in their own self-righteousness and assure themselves of the rightness of their actions who get their comeuppance.

So you're seriously arguing that this is the message of this production? That it's intended as moral broadside against the "resistance"? We're all aware of the ambiguities of Shakespeare's play, just not convinced that the director is.

As others have said, it's assassination porn to excite the Manhattan crowd. I'm sure the director is having second thoughts, but didn't have the benefit of hindsight and seeing Kathy Griffin's faceplant before planning this production.

Lloyd W. Robertson said...

It's a good question whether the play in New York sticks to Shakespeare's text, and therefore lends itself to the conclusion that the conspirators were in the wrong. I'm struck by the images suggesting that the murderous conspirators are people of colour, men and women both, who are obviously (in progressive world) full of rage at Trump because he is allegedly a racist, etc. The fact that so many diverse people stab "Trump" I guess is supposed to confirm that many diverse groups have good reason to hate him. I suspect this is different from the Obama version of Caesar which was put on in Minneapolis, and from the Kingman movie with an Obama-like president.

Sigivald said...

Yeah, for me to take Theater seriously as "provocative", rather than "Progressive pabulum", try traveling back in time and casting President Obama as Caesar in 2015.

(I mean, ideally, leave Caesar as Caesar, if you're going to perform it at all.

But if you have to play "provocative", strike at your audience's idols, not their betes noir.)

Michael K said...

I know this point has been made by others, but it bears repeating: the harshest condemnation the play brings is against the conspirators.

You are assuming far too much about the audience. This is "assassination porn" for a bunch of clueless fools who think they are wise.

I doubt 10% of them have ever read a play or seen Shakespeare performed.

Henry said...

I wonder why everyone thought of Julius Caeser and no one thought of King Lear?

King Lear is the obvious topical hitch: the aging king -- vain, foolish, besotted with himself -- is played by his associates and destroys his own kingdom.

Alas, the groundlings would not get to see the King Trump stabbed, but they would get to see President Obama play the King of France.

Fen said...

"When we hold the mirror up - "

How does your mirror cast Citizens United?

Jason said...

Liberals: "What's the big deal? Sure, we're acting out stabbing a live Trump effigy to death for the enjoyment of other liberals. But that doesn't make this pro-assassination or anything of the sort. We're just putting a modern twist on an old classic. Besides: One of the greatest mass killers in the history of civilization isn't even written as the villain in this play."

Also liberals: "Palin's map caused the Gifford shooting."

Hammond X. Gritzkofe said...

Brings to mind a bit from "Our First Revolution" by Michael Barone (audio book from Amazon/Audible.

Quoting historian JGA Pockock about the Glorious Revolution: "...a spectacular display of reason of state rising above the restraints of common morality; daughters dethroned their father, even the sanitized version of King Lear was hard to perform for many years..."

Phil MMD said...

According to TraditionalMoron;
"The Merchant of Venice was written highlighting the popular Catholic Church antisemitism of its day. It celebrates defeating a heartless and maniacally clever Jewish Banker's attempt to murder a good man. And the audience is meant to cheer when the Evil Jew is destroyed."

So when was the play written?
"The date of composition for The Merchant of Venice is believed to be between 1596 and 1598"
Between 1596 and 1598, a time when Protestant England was so very "pro-Catholic", n'est-ce pas (/s).

It's been some time since I commented but I do lurk here and I thought TraditionalMoron had mellowed but I see he still is the same historical challenged bigoted moron. Some things never change.

Ray said...

The producer could made it so much more interesting. Remember, you can now get a BA in English at many schools, cough UCLA, without even studying Shakespeare. Tells you a lot about the credentialed, but not educated.

I like the Bernie angle with Debbie and Donna Brazile. Along with Bernie Bro's as the citizens. Who would play Cassias, the Wormtongue of the play?

Or have Republicans as the conspirators and Marc Anthony, Octavia, etc. Who would you have play Marc Anthony? Rush, Ted Cruz, Pence, or ? Brutus as ? Cassias as?

I liked this remark best of the thread:
Stephen said...

>Caesar should have been made up to look like Bernie, and at the climactic moment "Et >tu, Debbie?" would have resonated with the audience and have been in the spirit of Shakespeare. They missed their chance.

Static Ping said...

traditionalguy said... I dare the little shots to put on The Merchant of Venice in Manhattan.

I actually just saw a production of The Merchant of Venice. It was very well done. At the end of the play my opinion of Shylock was both of great sympathy for the anti-Semitism he had to face on a daily basis and satisfaction that he deserved everything he received because, at the bottom of it all, he's not a nice person. I suppose when you do this play right, none of the main characters comes off well. They are all jerks but in different ways and to different degrees.

readering said...

Director's remarks don't strike me as weasily, although I still don't understand the rationale for the characterizations. Only so much you can do to make Elizabethan iambic pentameter appealing for the woke generation. (I do remember a powerful Coriolanus in the Park with Morgan Freeman back in the seventies.)

Virtually Unknown said...

OK, I have it:

Bill Clinton - Falstaff
George Bush - Henry V
Donald Trump - Julius Caesar
Obama - Ozymandias

I met a traveller from an antique land
Who said: Two vast and trunkless legs of stone
Stand in the desert. Near them on the sand,
Half sunk, a shatter'd visage lies, whose frown
And wrinkled lip and sneer of cold command
Tell that its sculptor well those passions read
Which yet survive, stamp'd on these lifeless things,
The hand that mock'd them and the heart that fed.
And on the pedestal these words appear:
"My name is Ozymandias, king of kings:
Look on my works, ye Mighty, and despair!"
Nothing beside remains: round the decay
Of that colossal wreck, boundless and bare,
The lone and level sands stretch far away


Nothing remains but a pen and phone.

Scientific Socialist said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
roesch/voltaire said...

In doing so, they have proved more sensitive than even Queen Elizabeth I. “I am Richard II, know ye not that?” she famously remarked around 1601. Interesting note of history from NYT article on the play.

Virtually Unknown said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Virtually Unknown said...

“The event here is not my show. The event here is the right-wing hate machine,” he added in an interview following the opening night performance.

Oh, there's a "hate machine" alright, not sure it's a right wing one though. I am thinking without the severed head ISIS wannabe photo spread, people might have been slower to pounce, but "snipers wanted" did not come from the right wing either.

Virtually Unknown said...

We are not so much a "hate machine" as memory hole deniers, as in we don't respect the memory hole into which Democrats inter embarrassing facts.

JohnAnnArbor said...

To shock, don't you have to do something unexpected?

This kind of thing is expected, and therefore not shocking. It's boring, really, and tedious.

Martin said...

I'm confused. Eustis is clearly warning us about what would have happened to democracy and freedom had Clinton won, yet the make Caesar look like Trump.

Makes no sense.

Christopher said...

So you're seriously arguing that this is the message of this production? That it's intended as moral broadside against the "resistance"? We're all aware of the ambiguities of Shakespeare's play, just not convinced that the director is.

My argument is that this is not an aspect of the play that's up for grabs. It's possible to play with the depiction of Caesar--And obviously this one is meant to be negative--But it's not possible to use the play to lionize political violence unless you cut out the last two acts.

Christopher said...

You are assuming far too much about the audience. This is "assassination porn" for a bunch of clueless fools who think they are wise.

I doubt 10% of them have ever read a play or seen Shakespeare performed


Yes if there's one thing progressive Manhattanites hate, it's Shakespeare.

HoodlumDoodlum said...

Oh, good point: I thought Shakespeare was a Dead White Man and the study of English Literature was pro-white supremacy or colonialism/imperialism or something.

Gahrie said...

The producer could made it so much more interesting. Remember, you can now get a BA in English at many schools, cough UCLA, without even studying Shakespeare. Tells you a lot about the credentialed, but not educated.

At my high school we read two Shakespeare plays a year, all four years. My best friend, ten years younger, graduated high school without reading a single Shakespeare work.

Bill Peschel said...

I look forward to the group's next production: "The Crucible" performed by young hipsters and BLM supporters.

Dan Hossley said...

What is the problem with creative talent? Always with the remakes. Nothing original. Yuk.

bflat879 said...

I think it's time to pull the plug on the NEA. Just stop the funding altogether. If we're going to have organizations who are all politics, all the time, let the liberals support them, I don't feel like having my tax money going to them.

Somertime, down the road, we can put some restrictions on the funding. Sure people have rights to say what they want, what they don't have a "right" to is public funding and it's time we make that clear.

readering said...

Read the latest NEA annual report? Doesn't sound all politics.

Richard Dillman said...

I don't wish to besmirch Chaucer, but at the end of "The Canterbury Tales" he issued a quite witty retraction, apologizing to all who
we're offended. Of course, he didn't mean it and few readers took him literally.. He was, however, subject to political patronage and needed to cover himself.

rosignol said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Unknown said...

In this country, we have freedom of speech. We can say almost anything we want. The people who prepared and executed this play have the right to their opinion. And I have a right to my opinion too. We are all responsible for what we do and say, those events are a reflection of our character. Clearly you think that our duly elected president should be killed. I can't and won't be upset with you now. But you don't get to be upset later if I remember what you said and did and hold it against you. You are responsible.

Floyd Alsbach said...

I honestly hope that they do not understand the devastating consequences (Civil War, execution of several senators/intellectuals including Cicero, the defacto end of the Republic) that Rome suffered following Caesar's murder. If they do understand, are they actually wishing Civil War upon us? If so they are even greater fools than I suspected.

tmitsss said...

For Oskar is an honorable man

LarsPorsena said...

"Why, Caesar straddles the narrow world like a giant, and we petty men walk under his huge legs and look forward only to dying dishonorably, as slaves."


Yes, they are petty men.

wildswan said...

“When we hold the mirror up to nature,” he said, “often what we reveal are disturbing, upsetting, provoking things. Thank God. That’s our job.”

'On the other hand, when we hold the mirror up to ourselves,' he continued silently, 'usually what we see is quite glorious. God, we thank you that we are not like the deplorables.'

Lewis Wetzel said...

"When we hold the mirror up to nature, often what we reveal are disturbing, upsetting, provoking things. Thank God. That’s our job.”

It could well be argued that what Trump has done is hold a mirror up to theirnature, and the response is anger, hatred, and an urge to destroy.
None of these artsy types seems to understand that they they stand in no privileged place from which to critique American culture.

dada said...

Be real, fuck the fake stabbing, end the play as you really feel, cut his head off.

champ said...

This guy Oskar Eustis is a regressive hack, and a loser...

veni vidi vici said...

How close is this outdoor theatre in the park to the skating rink that Trump famously rebuilt and restored after all of the theatre audience members' friends and cronies failed expensively and spectacularly to do so for several years beforehand?

What a bunch of lame-assed poseurs.

SukieTawdry said...

What is this? The mirror's reflection tells us we need to assassinate Donald Trump for what he might do? So far, most of what he's done as president is undo the dictates of his predecessor and by doing so, expand freedom of choice, not further constrict it. So who's the real dictator here?

Is it true that in the Eustis production Caesar/Trump is assassinated by his female and black guards/SS agents?

Jay Elink said...

"What's going on here? They did the same production with Obama in 2012 and it was not an issue .******************

As I SAID, the original play was reviewed in an uber-left Minn-St Paul paper and NOWHERE did it equate the tall black Caesar with Obama, and NO objections were recorded from the paper's readers.

MB said...

Ah, the Lost Cause rears its head again! Sic semper tyrannis, right?

Unknown said...

The Left's rage is partly the rage of Caliban upon seeing his face in the glass (the mirror).

Love all the Shakespeare remarks. The Divine Will was ever subtle and complex, and no fan of regicide.

By the way, Drama Queen Comey hiding behind the arras like Polonius to escape President Trump? The Donald should, like Hamlet, have cried, "A rat, a rat!" and stabbed him through that curtain. :-)

Loyd Jenkins said...

Wouldn't it be more accurate to have a Hillary-stand-in killed by Trump-stand-ins and the cast try to restore her reputation?