Shakespeare Electronic Conference, Vol. 7, No. 0629. Tuesday, 27 August 1996.
Date: Monday, 26 Aug 96 10:27 EST
Subject: Nashville *JC*
Well, it wasn't the Globe, but we did have airplanes overhead!
Nashville's free park performance this summer presents an election-year *JC* in
suits, complete with Secret Service men, and a real-time video camera link to
the paraparrazi/journalists who are recording the events as they happen in
front of a fairly conventional columns-and-bunting set. This adds a different
twist to Caesar's question, "who in the press calls for me?" as he tried to
spot the (homeless) soothsayer, who calls to him from the audience.
Cassius is a woman--played by Denice Hicks with an intense, deadly, and frantic
earnestness. Her relationship with Brutus stays strictly business, but with a
nice undercurrent of repressed attraction, I thought. Her being a woman makes
for a couple nice moments, such as when Caesar says of her, "She thinks too
much. Such women are dangerous."
Various others of the senators are women, too--who seem to play the most active
and vicious roles in the asassination (gratuitous stabbings after Caesar has
fallen, etc.). Artemidorus is a woman, and seems to be an ex-lover of
Caesar--all the more reason for him to ignore her helpful missive in public.
Cinna the poet is also a woman, in a moment as close to levity as this deadly
serious play ever got. It was either the humidity or the production, but I
felt quite coated with earnestness when it ended.
The riots after Mark Antony's speech (played with a slimey effectiveness by
Gary Lowery) are augmented by video clips (on the big screen behind the stage)
of the riots at the '68 Demo Convention. That, and the interesting doubling of
the public scenes as we saw them before us, but also as they were made into the
media event on the screen, were the most interesting innovations.
Mark Antony uses news clips of the assasination during his speech, running
through it once and then reversing it to freeze the frame at the point at which
Caesar says "Et tu" to Brutus.
The generals also use the video screen as a slide screen for reviewing war
plans and the like. Caesar's campaign portrait, in this way, accidentally pops
up as Brutus is reviewing war maps, and melts into a video that talks to him.
Mark Antony's last speech over Brutus's body ("This was the noblest Roman...")
is, in this way, specifically put as a photo-op moment. He ends his speech,
looks sorrowfully into space for a moment, then motions for the camera to cut,
and puts the body down quite efficiently.
Certainly worth the price of admission (it's free), if not a little more (I
gave a donation). Continues on Aug. 30 and 31, if anyone will be in the
The production is by The Nashville Shakespeare Festival in collaboration with
Mockingbird Public Theater. In Centennial Park off West End Avenue, beginning