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Home :: Archive :: 2002 :: April ::
Re: IRT's Drive Through Julius Caesar
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 13.1152  Friday, 26 April 2002

From:           M Yawney <
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 >
Date:           Thursday, 25 Apr 2002 13:45:48 -0700 (PDT)
Subject: 13.1099 IRT's Drive Through Julius Caesar
Comment:        Re: SHK 13.1099 IRT's Drive Through Julius Caesar

<snip>
> The first thing
> that should have tipped
> me off, though, is that the production was being
> advertised as a 90
> minute production, which somehow seems at least an
> hour too short,
<snip>
> They also used box
> cutter knives in the
> assassination scene, which was an interesting nod
> toward Sept. 11, but I
> don't know if we think of Brutus et. al. as
> terrorists per se. Thoughts?
>
> What was really depressing was that any effort
> Shakespeare may have made
> some four hundred years ago to develop both
> characters and their
> relationships was for the most part completely cut.
> I was not convinced
> that Brutus loved JC, but there wasn't any time to
> see any of that. For
> a spectator who loves the play JC, this was a
> depressingly brief showing
> of the play.

Brutus et. al. as terrorists? A group of people trying to create a
better world through murder, believing that killing was the most morally
and ethically correct thing to do?

Sounds like terrorism to me--though I do not know if box cutters are
right.

Though 90 minutes does seem more heavily cut than usual, I am not sure
how severe that is. I recently directed the play and with a
fuller-than-most productions text and and intermission it still came out
to only 2 hours and 40 minutes. It is not a long play. (On the other
hand, Welles famous production of 1 hour and 40 minutes utterly
eviscerated the play, by cutting Cassius's death and the battle among
other things.)

And some of the difficulties you point out are in the text. Brutus and
Ceasar have minimal interaction and always with a large crowd sharing
the stage. There are other oddities, for example, Antony speaks only 33
words before Ceasar's death, then suddenly releases torrents of them.

The shape of this play is like the crooked-backed history plays, which
were meant to play on and against the audiences prior knowledge of the
characters and events, leaving odd gaps in plot and character that make
modern production difficult. We want to see it as one of the tragedies,
which tell a complete story in a straightforward manner but JC is
another kind of beast.

With its strange cameos by historical figures who appear out of nowhere
to deliver one or two lines before disappearing again, and only one
relationship that shows significant development (Brutus-Cassius) this
play was one of the hardest plays of the period to work on (and my
experience includes many of the minor Elizabethan-Jacobean playwrights),
because it does not show on stage the very things a modern audience
wants to see---like the relationship of
Brutus and Ceasar.

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