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Artists Defend Shakespeare In The Park, Because Political Theater Matters

By in Huffington Post on June 12, 2017

By Katherine Brooks

As critics denounce a Trumped-up version of Shakespeare’s “Julius Caesar,” actors, writers and illustrators are pledging their support for one of New York City’s most beloved cultural attractions.

Every summer Shakespeare in the Park arrives in New York City, bringing with it free stagings of the Bard’s best works, sometimes updated to appeal to modern audiences flocking to Central Park to see a play.

This year, that was certainly the case. The Public theater’s update of “Julius Caesar,” Shakespeare’s famous play about the assassination of the titular Roman dictator, features a Trumped-up storyline in which Caesar, golden hair and all, wears a business suit instead of a toga. His wife Calpurnia dresses in silk and high heels, speaking with what’s been described as a “heavy Slavic accent.” An American flag can be seen waving onstage.

The decision to infuse the story of Caesar with the spirit of today’s political mania ― to base the main character on U.S. President Donald Trump ― was a bold one. (Though hardly unprecedented; for example, a 2012 American Conservative article recounts a version of the play with an Obama-esque Caesar.) Bold because in the production, the leader of Rome is assassinated, stabbed to death by senators who felt his death would be best for their troubled republic. So in director Oskar Eustis’ rendition, a figure that looks an awful lot like Trump dies at the hands of ardent critics every night of the play’s run.

When Fox News and the corporations sponsoring The Public Theater caught wind of the death, they, still digesting the bloody antics of comedian Kathy Griffin, bridled. Delta […]    

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