I applaud the statement issued by Boston’s Praxis Stage who are about to mount a production of JULIUS CAESAR in Cambridge this summer. In fact, I laughed myself silly–though this is truly no laughing matter. Praxis called it, and I’m happy to amplify their response to the ongoing attempts to suppress freedom of expression and the crucial conversations theater provokes, especially in times of social and political turmoil.
Apparently a “Trumpian” JULIUS CAESAR was too much for Bank of America and Delta to wrap their corporate arms and brains around–so they stabbed it in the back. Maybe it was just the canary-colored comb over. Maybe the Public Theater production directed by Elliot Norton Prize winner Oskar Eustis would have found a “friendlier” patron in UNITED which has scrambled to re-choreograph its culture of corporate thuggery echoed by the current administration. I say BEWARE all corporate sponsors using philanthropy for tax breaks while masking their alignment with issues which undermine social justice and the artistic freedom they ostensibly support. But I say on with the show! This statement from PRAXIS STAGE:
“Boston’s Praxis Stage has a series of announcements in light of the recent controversy involving Bank of America and Delta Airlines both pulling their corporate sponsorships from the current Public Theater Production of JULIUS CAESAR in Central Park, due to that production’s depiction of a “Trump-like” Caesar who—shockingly—is brutally stabbed in a surprise mid-play development. As we are preparing our own producing of JULIUS CAESAR (coming in August to Cambridge parks, part of our TYRANNICAL SUMMER project in rep with CORIOLANUS from August 16 through 27, Wednesdays through Sundays. First week in Danehy Park; second week in Longfellow; final week back in Danehy Park. Check out praxis.stage @Facebook for further details)we feel it is important that we get out in front of these issues:
1) In light of the shock and outrage engendered by the Public’s interpretation of JULIUS CAESAR, Praxis is taking steps to make sure that our production in no way feels timeless, or as if this transcendent piece of literature might speak to our contemporary age. Moreover we pledge that if the play does uncover contemporary resonances with our age it shall do so in an entirely safe way that in no way challenges, unsettles, or angers our precious audience. To that end we will be distancing the character of CAESAR from our viewers by having the actor perform the role in a phony English accent, replete with trills and ponderous pauses. As to the scene that caused the greatest controversy, Praxis has a bold new vision for this scene that may offer more of a “feel-good CAESAR” for our Great America. Our play’s Conspirators will “drain the swamp” of Rome on that fateful Ides of March by offering Caesar a comfortable corporate retirement package, a golden parachute, revolving-door opportunity as a lobbyist for the grain markets of Rome. We wouldn’t want to spill any blood in one of Shakespeare’s greatest tragedies, now would we?
2) Additionally, Praxis wishes to make it known here that we are rejecting all potential funding from either Bank of America or Delta Airlines for our own production of JULIUS CAESAR. Though it remains unclear if either of those parasitic corporations had the intention of throwing us an infinitesimal amount of the dough they reap off the backs of the poor and working class in this nation, as they profit obscenely from a rigged economy, we are prepared to announce that –unless it is delivered in a simple brown paper bag — Praxis will not be receiving corporate funds from these two wealth extracting behemoths.
3) Finally, just because we feel it cannot be stated enough, Praxis Stage wishes to affirm the fact that Donald Trump is a wretched, heartless hooligan, and that he and his administration — moreover the entire American Right– profane all that Praxis holds dear, and imperil the very health and functioning of this nation of ours. ”