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latinx theatre, latinx plays, latinx Shakespeares, Latin American Shakespeare, Latin American Shakespeares

 

Julius Caesar

Directed by: Edward Payson Call

Guthrie Theater

Minneapolis, MN

 

 

Julius Caesar (1969)

 

In 1969, the Guthrie Theater in Minneapolis staged a production of Julius Caesar. It was director Edward Payson Call’s final play for the Guthrie, following his critically-successful 1965 production of The Caucasian Chalk Circle for the Guthrie’s third season, [1] and his 1966 production of As You Like It, set in the South during the post-Civil War era.[2]

 

This production of Julius Caesar is the first Latinx or Latin American-themed Shakespeare production post-West Side Story (1957 Broadway, 1961 film) that I have tracked. In John Ripley’s analysis of Julius Caesar productions, he writes that the production “as the very antithesis of the RSC mood.”[3] Call incorporated Brechtian devices, saying “‘I tried to talk about political assassination using Roman costumes and Brechtian subtitles.’”[4]

 

The production was set in an unspecified Latin American country. Horst Zander writes, “it included contemporary military uniforms and guns, but also a Caesar as an Aztec-like sun-god. Although it did not concentrate on a particular period, the version nevertheless emphasized parallels between Caesar and modern dictators.[5] Indigeneity was further invoked through the soundscape when Caesar as sun-god “ascended a great Mayan pyramid to the strains of indigenous flute music.”[6]

 

 

CARLA DELLA GATTA

OCTOBER 2022

 

[1] William L. Prosser, “American Directorial Approaches to Shakespeare, 1960-1976,” Dissertation, City University of New York, 1977. 223.

[2] According to Call, “‘Jaques was a kind of disillusioned Robert E. Lee. Adam was a black slave. The men in the forest were like Confederate soldiers who refused to go back to a Yankee-controlled South. Duke Frederick was a carpetbeggar. The girls wore pretty crinolines until they changed into men's clothes. . . we made [Touchstone] an Irishman. An Irish entrepreneur-entertainer.’” As quoted in Prosser, 225.

[3] John Ripley, ‘Julius Caesar’ on Stage in England and America, 1599-1973, Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 1980, 268.

[4] Prosser, 225-26.

[5] Horst Zander, “Introduction: Julius Caesar and the Critical Legacy,” Julius Caesar: New Critical Essays, Ed. Horst Zander, New York: Routledge, 2005, 3-58. 39.

[6] Michael L. Greenwald, “Multicultural and Regendered Romans: Julius Caesar in North America, 1969-2000,” Julius Caesar: New Critical Essays, Ed. Horst Zander, New York: Routledge, 2005, 319-332. 321.

Select pages from the Study Guide Courtesy of Carla Della Gatta
Julius Caesar at The Guthrie (1969); directed by Edward Payson Call
Robert Pastene as Julius Caesar (1969)
Antony (Charles Keating) and Brutus (Allen Hamilton) in Julius Caesar
Gus Fleming as Soothsayer in Julius Caesar at The Guthrie (1969)
Julius Caesar at The Guthrie, directed by Edward Payson Call
Latinx Julius Caesar - The Guthrie (1969)
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