Shakespeare's Staging
Julius Caesar
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Friday, 22 April 2005 06:12

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Julius Caesar: Caesar's Ghost visits Brutus before the Battle at Philippi. California Shakespeare Theatre, 2003. Courtesy of Jay Yamada.

STAGING JULIUS CAESAR

This play is often favored because it broadly answers neoclassical critics like Sidney who question the decorum of the Elizabethan stage. In dealing with a high topic, Caesar's murder, it does not observe the unities of time and place but does sustain a severe style, avoiding the mixture of comedy and tragedy. Nevertheless, it does not focus narrowly on the life of Caesar, but rather covers the causes and consequences of his murder, making this a political play rather than a conventional Aristotelian tragedy. It is often interpreted in the light of the society of the audience. In 19th-century America Brutus was seen as the heroic defender of the Republic against the threat of monarchy and empire, like founders of the USA. However, Elizabethans might have seen it as the failure of murderous rebels against the establishment. Moderns tend to recognize the speciousness of Brutus arguing for punishment of hypothetical usurpation, noting not only the cynicism of Cassius, but that the assassination does not prevent the creation of an empire (Octavius becomes the Emperor Caesar Augustus) but brings it into being under the worst conditions: civil war becoming international. Despite (or because of) its severe tone and consistency, the play has always been surprisingly popular considering its divergence from the Shakespearean norm of tonal diversity, not to say tragicomedy. Fascination with its notoriously flamboyant assassination scene is probably the key. © HMR

BIBLIOGRAPHY

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Charney, Maurice, ed. Julius Caesar, by William Shakespeare. New York and London: Applause, 1996.

Chothia, Jean. "Julius Caesar in Interesting Times." In Remaking Shakespeare: Performance across Media, Genres, and Cultures, edited by Pascale Aebischer, Edward J. Esche and Nigel Wheale, 115-33. Basingstoke and New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2003.

Clayton, Thomas. "'Should Brutus Never Taste of Portia's Death But Once?': Text and Performance in Julius Caesar." Studies in English Literature, 1500-1900 23, no. 2 (Spring 1983): 237-55.

Ellwood, Colin. "Directing Julius Caesar: The Events on Stage." In Julius Caesar, by William Shakespeare, edited by Michel Bitot, 237-51. Tours: U.F.R. Anglais et Langues Etrangres Appliques, 1995.

Earnest, Stephen. "The Image of Caesar: Production Approaches to Julius Caesar." On-Stage Studies 15 (1992): 103-8.

Field, Brad S., Jr., ed. Shakespeare's "Julius Caesar": A Production Collection/Comments by Eighteen Actors and Directors in Seven Different Productions. Chicago: Nelson-Hall, 1980.

France, Richard. "Orson Welles's Modern Dress Production of Julius Caesar." Theatre Quarterly 5 (September-November 1975): 55-66.

Gianakaris, C. J. Julius Caesar. Garland Shakespeare Bibliographies. London: Taylor and Francis, 1990.

Liebler, Naomi Conn. "Julius Caesar Set in Africa." Shakespeare Bulletin 9, no. 4 (Fall 1991): 39-40.

McNamee, Lawrence F. "The First Production of Julius Caesar on the German Stage." Shakespeare Quarterly 10, no. 3 (Summer 1959): 409-421.

Miller, Anthony. "Julius Caesar in the Cold War: The Houseman-Mankiewicz Film." Literature/Film Quarterly 28, no. 2 (2000): 95-100.

Nettles, John. "Brutus in Julius Caesar." In Players of Shakespeare 4: Further Essays in Shakespearean Performance by Players with the Royal Shakespeare Company, edited by Russell Jackson and Robert Smallwood, 177-92. Cambridge and New York: Cambridge University Press, 1998.

O'Connor, John S. "But Was It 'Shakespeare'?: Welles' Macbeth and Julius Caesar." Theatre Journal 32 (1980): 337-48.

Richmond, Hugh Macrae. "Julius Caesar." Review of Julius Caesar, directed by Jonathan Moscone, California Shakespeare Theatre, 2003. Shakespeare Bulletin 21, no. 3 (2003): 106-8.

Richmond, H. M. "Julius Caesar." In Shakespeare's Political Plays, 203-17. New York: Random House, 1967.

Ripley, John. "Julius Caesar" on Stage in England and America, 1599-1973. Cambridge; New York: Cambridge University Press, 1980.

Soloski, Alexis. "Once More Into the Breeches." Arts and Leisure: New York Times, 10/6/13, p.4.

Julius Caesar at Talkin' Broadway.

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