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‘Caesar’ in the Age of Trump, Courtesy of the Public

By Jil Picariello, Theater Editor, February 16, 2017

 It’s always interesting to see how a new presidential administration makes its mark on the arts. Hamilton, after all, began its journey to Broadway seven years ago at a White House poetry jam.

So far, President Trump has expressed no interest in any art form, despite his youthful dabble as a theatrical producer. But despite his disinterest, he’s managed to make a mark on the theater, as a subject, a punchline, and an influence on many productions, both new and old.

The latest example of this is heading our way in May. The Public Theater announced this week that their first show of this 55th season of Free Shakespeare in the Park will be a new production of Julius Caesar, directed by none other than the Public’s Artistic Director Oskar Eustis, who last directed a show in the Park in 2008 (Hamlet). Always committed to exploring the intersection of public life and the arts (as in their new Public Forums series, announced last week), the Public finds that the tale of a powerful man who threatens a nation’s democratic traditions is remarkably, we hope not tragically, relevant to our times.

The story of a leader bent on absolute power, and the small band of patriots who oppose him, has, according to the Public, “never felt more contemporary.” And JC has only made it to the Central Park’s Delacorte Theater once before, in 2000, when it was directed by Barry Edelstein and featured Jeffrey Wright as Mark Antony, Jamey Sheridan as Brutus, and The Man from U.N.C.L.E. (the great TV show, not the awful movie) star David McCallum.

Julius Caesar runs May 23-June 18 and will be followed by A Midsummer Night’s Dream, directed by Lear deBessonet, from July 11-August 13.

“There is no difficulty in the world that Shakespeare can’t address,” says Eustis. Perhaps Shakespeare never met Donald Trump.

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