Drama School 101: Read the Fucking Play

I never made it to Shakespeare in the Park last year. I don’t know why but the entire season just flew by before I could decide whether or not to go line up one morning. And truth be told, their current (well, it’s closing tonight) production of Julius Caesar almost did, too. Julius Caesar isn’t one of my favorites and I didn’t think there was anyone in it of note. THEN the media on the right started kicking and screaming like the little snowflakes that they are and I was like, “OKAY, I’VE GOTTA SEE THIS.” I tried playing the lottery via TodayTix all week and finally had last night free and decided to take a little sign down to the Public and try to get a ticket.

When I asked where the stand-by line was, they said there wasn’t any because the show was sold out. So silly. There are always extra tickets. Anyways, there were already protesters there (protesting IN favor) when I arrive at 5:15pm and it only grew while I waited with my little sign (almost getting ticketed, multiple times, because apparently you’re not allowed to “solicit” in Central Park. Sorry, dudes, I just wanted a ticket, not soliciting for sex).  I read Imogen Lloyd-Webber’s, “The Intelligent Conversationalist” while I waited and watched the cops arrive as the counter protests (pro-Trump, anti-production) arrived – two old, white senior citizens – and the barricades went up. There was a blonde girl protesting in support of the production screaming her head off. I wanted to tell her to STFU because she was our side look bad because she looked like a lunatic, but I decided not to.

Around 7:10pm, a woman around my age was walking by when she saw my sign and said, “Oh, I think I might have an extra ticket. I don’t think my friend is coming, hold on.” And after she went to the box office, another guy came up to me and said he might have an extra one, as well. The woman came back first, and I gave my sign to another guy who was waiting around for a ticket (who I think was given the ticket that the second person who approached me had. Yay, teamwork). I grabbed a chicken wrap and a beer from the concession stand, watched some more of the protest, and then took my seat.

The audience was allowed onstage, to sign banners, and it was all pretty awesome. Then at 8:10, Oskar Eustis’ voice came on the PA system and told us about who was sponsoring the show, and added that despite his statement in the program, there was one line that was changed and we’d all know what it was when it came. AHHHH.

The lights dimmed and I, for one, couldn’t wait for the allusions to spill forth. At the very top, there were bro-y looking guys in red caps with white writing on them putting up pro-Caesar posters over the counter-protester’s posters. The first glimpse of Caesar (played by Gregg Henry) was highly anticipated and didn’t disappoint. The first time Calpurnia (Caesar’s wife, played by Tina Benko) opened her mouth, the audience lost it. She was using an Eastern European accent. Her mannerisms were very familiar to us, too.

The one line that was changed? “Caesar could stab their mothers on Fifth Avenue and no one would say anything.” BAM. Calpurnia swatted Caesar’s hand away once and there was a reference in iambic pentameter to pussy grabbing, too. The protesters, onstage, throughout the show used modern chants like, “No justice, no peace.” Everything was updated and very familiar, but still Shakespearean.

Corey Stoll as Brutus was hands down my favorite. I will admit I only recognized him from GIRLS, but he was a fantastic Brutus. He’s what Paul Ryan could be if he could grow a spine. And Marc Antony was played by Elizabeth Marvel (side note: awesome stage name) and I can only imagine that Antony being played by a woman is an allusion to Kellyanne Conway. It could be a stretch though.

Anyways, the death scene wasn’t very brutal. I have no idea what the reports were talking about. There’s a little bit of stage blood and, of course, daggers, but come on. It’s not like the Public chose to go all Lieutenant of Inishmore (if you haven’t seen it, go to the Lincoln Center library ASAP) on them.

Whatever, but now for the real-life protesters. Real life morons who waited in line for tickets so they could interrupt the show. Right as Brutus started shouting “Liberty!” a girl ran up onstage and said we needed to stop advocating for violence against the right. The stage manager, expecting this I presume, came immediately on the PA system and asked for security to remove her. The protester, idiot Laura Loomer, was removed and then another idiot, Jack Posobiec, stood up with his iPhone, recording (he’d apparently been recording different segments of the show all night, and tweeting them, and OMG, I wish I’d been sitting next to him so I could’ve given his phone to an usher) and yelling that we were all Nazis. He was swiftly removed as well. Yes, we’re the Nazis. You can see the moron’s video of it here.

We, the audience, cheered and gave a standing ovation to the cast and the security guards, as well. We cheered louder when the stage manager said, “Okay, Brutus, let’s take it from ‘Liberty!'” Liberty, indeed. It should be noted that Laura Loomer stood outside the Delacorte for the next 30 or so minutes yelling incoherently before she was apparently arrested. Bye, Felicia. 

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A quick shot of the audience standing and cheering when we were told we’d pick up the show at “LIBERTY!”

Well, Caesar’s dead, his conspirators are killed, and Rome falls. So, ya know, so much for advocating the killing of the president.

It was an exhilarating night of live theatre and it was totally worth every minute I stood outside waiting, hopefully, for a ticket. Julius Caesar closes tonight and I wonder what kind of protests will erupt tonight. Hopefully none, but we can’t be too sure. Go support the arts.

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