Dangerous Dreams | April 7 – June 11, 2016

In this profoundly moving, breathtaking, and deeply human play, Shakespeare shows us a world on fire; a world turned upside down; a world where some of history’s most famous men commit horrific crimes in the name of patriotism and honor. Julius Caesar is a dazzling thrill ride of betrayal, violence, and perhaps most surprisingly – love.

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Stuff that Happens
Stuff that happens before the play
  • Hundreds of years before the play begins, Brutus’s ancestor, Lucius Junius Brutus leads the revolt against the tyrannical king Tarquin the Proud and, in place of a monarchy, establishes the Roman Republic, a new system of government where checks and balances prevent power from resting with just one man.
  • Fearing the political and military power amassed by Julius Caesar while in Gaul, the Roman Senate orders him to return to Rome without his army. When Caesar defies this command and marches on Rome, civil war breaks out.
  • Caesar and Antony defeat the faction led by Pompey Magnus and Brutus.
  • Pompey flees to Egypt, where he is murdered.
  • Caesar forgives Brutus and welcomes him warmly back to public service.
  • Caesar also goes to Egypt, fathers a son with Cleopatra, and then finally decides to return home.
Stuff that happens during the play
  • Caesar arrives in Rome to great fanfare. A soothsayer warns him to “Beware the ides of March.”
  • Brutus fears the people will make Caesar a king, overturning the Republic.
  • Caesar’s popularity spurs a conspiracy among other Romans worried about his overreaching power.
  • Cassius and the other conspirators convince Brutus to join their cause.
  • Brutus’s wife, Portia, asks him to tell her what is troubling him.
  • Caesar’s wife, Calphurnia, has an ominous dream and pleads with him to stay at home. One of the conspiritors convinces Caesar to go to the Capitol as planned.
  • At the Capitol, the conspirators assassinate Caesar.
  • Mark Antony (who is loyal to Caesar) submits to the conspirators and obtains Brutus’s permission to speak at Caesar’s funeral.
  • Brutus defends his action to the crowd.
  • Antony incites the crowd against the conspirators.
  • The conspirators flee Rome.
  • Antony joins Octavius (Caesar’s nephew) and Lepidus to battle the conspirators.
  • Brutus and Cassius argue but make amends. Cassius allows Brutus to persuade him to meet the enemy at Philippi.
  • Ghostly visitations and the dogs of war ensue.
Notes from the Director
A Play about Us

“…. when did it become okay for one person to the boss of everybody??? Huh?!?! Because that’s NOT what Rome is about! WE SHOULD TOTALLY JUST STAB CAESAR!”
– Gretchen Weiners in Mean Girls

Though thought to be just a clueless Plastic, Ms. Weiners manages to do what so many of us have a hard time doing with Julius Caesar: she relates the themes, emotions, and struggles of the characters to her own life. In Mean Girls, the object of her resentment is Regina George, a girl whose first name literally means “Queen.” In Julius Caesar, the Senators’ fear of Caesar as “King,” leads to their bloody coup. It’s pretty smart stuff for a high school comedy but it’s downright daring for an Elizabethan tragedy. Shakespeare knew this stuff was about him and his country: the brand new super power of England.

Shakespeare knew how his England would be reflected in the scenes of Julius Caesar. Like the Rome he creates in the play, his country is powerful and wealthy. It is ruled by a single person. That person is without an heir. That person is in constant danger of assassination and revolt. A sick country that longs to be made well. But how?

Shakespeare was smart enough to be very careful about cloaking his allegiances in ambiguity. He suggests that tyranny is bad, but is perhaps better than chaos. He doesn’t offend Elizabeth I and the groundlings love it too! Whose side is he on? By refusing to answer this question, he creates a play that is both radical and conservative. Passionate and reasoned. Noble and seedy. Political and personal. It is a play that is many things, but make no mistake: it is about us. The play reflects not only our love of country and democracy, but the love between husbands and wives, the love of brothers-in-arms, the love of fathers and sons, and perhaps most importantly, our purported love of fairness and equality.

The United States of America is very clearly the new Rome and as we have inherited the mantle of Super Power from our Roman ancestors, we likewise have taken on their problems, their shames, and their fears.

The Plebeians in the oration scene are constantly yelling “Let us hear…” and I hope that is what you will do during the show tonight. Hear. Whether it is political discourse between senator and consul or domestic quarreling between husband and wife, I hope you will hear yourself in those arguments. This play is about us. How closely we resemble this Rome depends entirely on how carefully we listen.


Guest Director