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Julius Caesar

Directed by: Gerald Freedman

American Shakespeare Theatre

Stratford, CT


Julius Caesar (1979)



The 1979 production of Julius Caesar at American Shakespeare Theatre in Stratford, Connecticut, created a Latin American resonance in the characterization of Caesar as a “Latin American caudillo, who enjoys wearing his military uniform with its gold braid and rows of campaign service ribbons.”[1] It was the fifth time that the American Shakespeare Theatre staged the play since its opening in 1955,[2] and it ran in repertory with The Tempest and  t, all directed by Gerald Freedman.[3]


According to Michael L. Greenwald, “Gerald Freedman invented a Castroesque world filled with picture-snapping tourists and paparazzi; reporters hounded both loyalists and conspirators, while their pictures were projected upon an enormous television screen (to particularly strong effect during the funeral orations).”[4] The contemporary setting was also evidenced in costuming, the technology onstage, and according to Caldwell Titcomb, “There are motorcades, massed throngs, and, in the military half of the play, battle scenes and fire-bombings.” [5]


The production was also noted for its use of multiple media platforms. One reviewer noted, “film footage drawn from a whole range of contemporary troubles – college riots to the Vietnam War – is projected upon screens hanging above the stage.”[6] Titcomb writes, “In addition, Brutus and Antony not only deliver their eulogies before a battery of microphones but also are filmed by an unseen TV camera. So as we watch the two men speak, we simultaneously see them, from a slightly different angle, projected on a screen over their heads--bigger than life, as in a movie newsreel.”[7]



The American Shakespeare Theatre later became home to The American Shakespeare Festival. The building remained vacant from 1989 to 2019, when the historic theatre was destroyed by a fire.[8]






For a detailed review of the performance, see Titcomb.


[1] The reviewer goes on to write, “Our century is familiar with such personages: Peron in Argentina, Estrada Cabrera and Ubico in Guatemala, Gomez and Perez Jimenez in Venezuela, Vargas in Brazil, Hernandez Martinez in El Salvador, Ibanez in Chile, Stroessner in Paraguay.”

[2] The theatre company was formed in the 1950s, but the physical structure of the theater was finished in 1955. The first play they performed (in July 1955) was Julius Caesar.

[3] Twelfth Night was a revival of Freedman’s production from the prior season, set in the eighteenth century. While Freedman created concepts for Twelfth Night and Julius Caesar, one reviewed critiqued his production of The Tempest in that “the production lacks a unifying concept or a consistent quality of performance.” Mel Gussow, “Stage: Gerald Freedman Directs The Tempest: trip to the Supernatural,” The New York Times, 7 Aug 1979. C6.

[4] 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.

[5] Caldwell Titcomb, “A 20th-Century Julius Caesar… …an 18th-Century Twelfth Night,” The Harvard Crimson, 17 July 1979. Accessed 22 May 2020. 

[6] Richard Eder, “Stage: Julius Caesar Acted in Modern Mode,” The New York Times, 10 July 1979. C6

[7] Caldwell Titcomb, “A 20th-Century Julius Caesar… …an 18th-Century Twelfth Night,” The Harvard Crimson, 17 July 1979. Accessed 22 May 2020. 

[8] Tony Terzi, “Historic Shakespeare Festival Theatre burns to the ground in Stratford,”, 13 January 2019. Accessed 16 Oct 2022.

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