Shakespeare by the Sea's Julius Caesar draws Donald Trump comparisons
New York performance of same play featuring Trump-like Julius Caesar led to protest, sponsorship boycotts
A Halifax performance of Shakespeare's Julius Caesar is drawing on Donald Trump and the current American political situation for inspiration.
Shakespeare by the Sea, which puts on productions in Point Pleasant Park, is mounting the famous classic in which the title character is portrayed as an unconventional, populist leader of the Roman empire who is assassinated by other members of the political elite.
Co-artistic director Jesse MacLean said many of the lines in the performance could have been plucked from a news story.
"There's a lot of talk about tyrants and uprisings around the world," he said. "I think it's incredible that Shakespeare's language is still resonating with us."
He said people often come up to him at intermission saying, "'I just cant stop thinking about this particular political situation.'"
In June, a production of the same play in New York garnered international controversy when it portrayed Caesar in the likeness of Donald Trump, complete with red tie and hair.
While the production in Halifax portrays Caesar in traditional garb, the actor behind the role said audience members don't have to look far to see the similarities between the 400-year-old character and the president of the United States.
"Here is a story of a man who is ... much loved by the masses, but not liked by his political allies and peers, mostly because, in the context of the play, they're afraid that he is betraying the democratic values of a society," said actor Garry Williams.
Williams said the play opens with the Roman empire, teeming with rampant nationalism, after Caesar has finished invading and conquering many other countries.
"Both Donald Trump and Julius Caesar lead people to worry that they are not the right people to hold the authority they hold and are potentially dangerous to their country," he said.
- 'Actually reading Julius Caesar might help:' sponsors blasted for pulled funding from Trumpian depiction
MacLean said he hopes art forms such as theatre help people understand and reflect on the current political situation in the United States.
"We programmed this back in the fall before we knew the result of the U.S. election," he said. "Ever since then, it's only made us more resolved to continue to tell this story."