Julius Ceasar

By William Shakespeare
June 1 2007
directed by Cynthia Croot

The citizens of Rome gather in the streets to greet the triumphant Julius Caesar upon his return from war. Murellus and Flavius chide the citizens for worshipping him, and as Caesar passes through with his entourage on the way to the Capitol, a soothsayer warns Caesar to "beware the Ides of March." Cassius and Brutus, a great friend of Caesar, stay behind. Brutus fears the people will want Caesar as their king, thus ending the Republic in Rome. Cassius agrees that Caesar is being treated as a God, although as a man, he is weak. Caesar and the entourage re-enter, Caesar looking troubled. As the group leaves, Caska tells of Mark Antony offering the crown to Caesar three times, and of Caesar's three refusals. As a storm thunders over Rome, a group of men meet to plan Caesar's assassination. They realize that they need Brutus, a popular public figure, to join them if they are to succeed. Brutus, alone in his garden, struggles with a personal love for Caesar and fear for the future of Rome. The conspirators meet him, and Cassius convinces him to join the conspiracy. As the conspirators leave, Brutus' wife Portia enters, begging him to tell her what has been troubling him. Brutus dismisses her, promising to reveal the source of his unhappiness to her later. The next morning, Caesar's wife Calphurnia urges him not to go to the Capital, telling him of the bad omens of which she has dreamed. As he agrees to stay home, Decius Brutus, a conspirator, arrives to escort him. Decius laughs at Calphurnia's warnings, convincing Caesar to appear at the Senate House. There, the conspirators stab Caesar before the assembly. Mark Antony enters distraught, pledging peace with the conspirators and asking to speak at Caesar's funeral. Brutus agrees, on the condition that he himself be first to speak. Before the assembly, Brutus speaks in cool rhetoric about his motives in killing his friend, keeping his concerns for Rome at the forefront. Antony enters with Caesar's body, and in an emotional speech convinces the citizens of the injustice of the murder. The now frenzied crowd vows vengeance, killing an innocent man in the street because his name is the same as one of the conspirator's. Antony joins forces with Octavius Caesar, Julius Caesar's grand-nephew, and the two prepare for war against the forces of Brutus and Cassius. Cassius and Brutus quarrel over issues of money and honor. As they reconcile, Brutus reveals that Portia has killed herself. Later that night, the ghost of Caesar visits Brutus' tent, warning him that they will meet again on the battlefield. The following morning, Brutus and Cassius say their farewells. As Antony's men overcome Cassius and set fire to his tents, Cassius' servant Pindarus sees Titinius, one of Cassius' officers, surrounded and assumes that he has been captured. He carries this news to Cassius, who convinces Pindarus to kill him in his despair. Titinius, who was not captured, but celebrating the advancement of Brutus' forces, enters, and upon seeing Cassius dead, kills himself. Brutus discovers the two dead men, and in his grief falls upon his own sword. Antony and Octavius praise the dead Brutus as "the noblest Roman of them all," and look forward to the future of Rome under Octavius. -Christina Gutierrez, Dramaturg

Date Time
Friday June 1 12:00 am
Closed

The citizens of Rome gather in the streets to greet the triumphant Julius Caesar upon his return from war. Murellus and Flavius chide the citizens for worshipping him, and as Caesar passes through with his entourage on the way to the Capitol, a soothsayer warns Caesar to "beware the Ides of March." Cassius and Brutus, a great friend of Caesar, stay behind. Brutus fears the people will want Caesar as their king, thus ending the Republic in Rome. Cassius agrees that Caesar is being treated as a God, although as a man, he is weak. Caesar and the entourage re-enter, Caesar looking troubled. As the group leaves, Caska tells of Mark Antony offering the crown to Caesar three times, and of Caesar's three refusals. As a storm thunders over Rome, a group of men meet to plan Caesar's assassination. They realize that they need Brutus, a popular public figure, to join them if they are to succeed. Brutus, alone in his garden, struggles with a personal love for Caesar and fear for the future of Rome. The conspirators meet him, and Cassius convinces him to join the conspiracy. As the conspirators leave, Brutus' wife Portia enters, begging him to tell her what has been troubling him. Brutus dismisses her, promising to reveal the source of his unhappiness to her later. The next morning, Caesar's wife Calphurnia urges him not to go to the Capital, telling him of the bad omens of which she has dreamed. As he agrees to stay home, Decius Brutus, a conspirator, arrives to escort him. Decius laughs at Calphurnia's warnings, convincing Caesar to appear at the Senate House. There, the conspirators stab Caesar before the assembly. Mark Antony enters distraught, pledging peace with the conspirators and asking to speak at Caesar's funeral. Brutus agrees, on the condition that he himself be first to speak. Before the assembly, Brutus speaks in cool rhetoric about his motives in killing his friend, keeping his concerns for Rome at the forefront. Antony enters with Caesar's body, and in an emotional speech convinces the citizens of the injustice of the murder. The now frenzied crowd vows vengeance, killing an innocent man in the street because his name is the same as one of the conspirator's. Antony joins forces with Octavius Caesar, Julius Caesar's grand-nephew, and the two prepare for war against the forces of Brutus and Cassius. Cassius and Brutus quarrel over issues of money and honor. As they reconcile, Brutus reveals that Portia has killed herself. Later that night, the ghost of Caesar visits Brutus' tent, warning him that they will meet again on the battlefield. The following morning, Brutus and Cassius say their farewells. As Antony's men overcome Cassius and set fire to his tents, Cassius' servant Pindarus sees Titinius, one of Cassius' officers, surrounded and assumes that he has been captured. He carries this news to Cassius, who convinces Pindarus to kill him in his despair. Titinius, who was not captured, but celebrating the advancement of Brutus' forces, enters, and upon seeing Cassius dead, kills himself. Brutus discovers the two dead men, and in his grief falls upon his own sword. Antony and Octavius praise the dead Brutus as "the noblest Roman of them all," and look forward to the future of Rome under Octavius. -Christina Gutierrez, Dramaturg

"Caesar Shall Go Forth": Power in Life, Murder, and Myth Critics and audiences of Shakespeare's Julius Caesar have puzzled for centuries over a tragedy named after a character who dies halfway through the story. Why is the play not named after Brutus-a character who agonizes over his divided concern for Caesar (his dear personal friend) and his despair for the political future of Rome? Or for Cassius-the driving intellectual force behind the conspiracy, who reminds us all that "men at some time are masters of their fates?" Or even for Antony, the eloquent voice of Caesar's humanity, and by the end of the play, the driving force behind Rome's new regime? The answer seems to lie in the power, both human and divine, that Caesar wields throughout the play. As a man, we see him first as a triumphant warrior returning from battle, causing Cassius to remark that "he doth bestride the narrow world/Like a colossus, and we petty men/Walk under his huge legs." His influence is so great that the senators of Rome are ready to give up the ideal of a Republic to install him as king. Although historically Julius Caesar was epileptic (afflicted in Shakespeare's play with the "falling sickness"), his reputation and powerful persona seem to supercede his physical weaknesses. Even his initial refusal of the crown, which happens offstage, seems heightened and lofty in Caska's retelling of it. Caesar's seemingly unquestioned influence angers Cassius and prompts Brutus to question the ethics of rebellion. In this play, as in life, power does not necessarily go hand in hand with morality. In order to justify killing or protecting Caesar, Brutus must decide on the nature of Caesar's power; he must define Caesar as a great man, a despotic tyrant, or some combination of the two, and weigh the consequences of each for Rome. The force of these questions changes Brutus from a man deeply haunted and disturbed by his friend's tyrannical tendencies to a primeval warrior bathing in the vanquished Caesar's blood. Perhaps more than any of Shakespeare's other tragedies, the plot of Julius Caesar speeds rapidly from exposition to conclusion, moving from the seemingly peaceful order of the Republic to the chaos and violence of civil war. Caesar himself, both as a man and a myth, is what propels this unrelenting forward motion. His murder causes widespread death and destruction in Rome, splitting the city between those who cry for vengeance and those convinced that Caesar's death will usher in an era of "liberty, freedom, and enfranchisement." Unlike Brutus' rational and rhetorically driven speech before the forum at Caesar's funeral, Antony delivers his stirring oration over Caesar's bloody corpse, allowing the fallen ruler to dominate both the stage and the characters' minds even after his death. Just as he did before the murder, Brutus especially feels Caesar's continued presence in the second half of the play. Unable to escape the inner turmoil caused by the sacrifice of his old friend for the good of the state, he is literally haunted by Caesar's ghost on the eve of the battle at Philippi. The ghost's warning that he will be with Brutus in battle maintains his continued power; both Brutus and Cassius kill themselves uttering the name of a man who once declared, "for always, I am Caesar." -Christina Gutierrez, Dramaturg 
Julius Caesar: Fun Facts Another op'nin, another show... Julius Caesar is widely accepted as the play that opened Richard Burbage and William Shakespeare's Globe Theatre in 1599. To be or not to be... Shakespeare wrote Julius Caesar while in the planning stages for Hamlet, which was finished in 1600. Many scholars see Brutus' inner turmoil at the thought of sacrificing his friend for the good of the state to be a precursor to Hamlet's famous contemplativeness. What day is it, anyway?! The historical Julius Caesar was very concerned with developing an accurate calendar. In 46 BCE, he introduced what has come to be known as the "Julian calendar," making the year a now-standard 365 days, instead of the previous calendar's 355 day cycle. In Shakespeare's time, there was a large-scale debate over the use of the Julian calendar versus the new Gregorian calendar instituted by Pope Gregory in 1582. The debate tended to further polarize Catholics and Protestants. Many believe that the numerous references to time in the play are a result of this heated debate. Queen Bess on the stage! English Renaissance audiences would have been able to draw a parallel between the growing power and influence of Julius Caesar and that of the contemporary ruler, Queen Elizabeth I. For this reason, many consider this play to be one of Shakespeare's most political works. -Christina Gutierrez, Dramaturg
-Amanda Holden, Editor