NEW YORK — Because the most recent New York production of Julius Caesar was the Public Theater’s highly controversial Trump-inspired take, there’s at least some concern at New York's Access Theater, where Pocket Universe’s all-female Julius Caesar is currently running. But no one has stormed the stage yet.
“That made me a little bit nervous,” Alyssa May Gold, who conceived of the production and stars as Brutus, told BuzzFeed News. “I thought, What would I do if someone came on stage during mine? I honestly don’t know, and I hope I don’t have to find out.”
Gold said she followed the backlash against the Shakespeare in the Park Julius Caesar closely. “It was really exciting in the sense that I’m obsessed with this play,” she said. “I was very excited that people were now talking about it, and hopefully people are now gonna go read it.”
There is nothing even remotely Trumpian in Gold’s Julius Caesar, which reconceives the play as a teen drama set at an all-girls high school. And so far, there hasn’t been any pushback against it either (though it is not nearly as high-profile as the Public’s Central Park–housed production).
“If people are gonna do something [to stop the show], there’s not a whole lot you can do to preemptively prepare for that,” Gold said. She doesn't think the theater needs to take any extra security measures, calling it an unnecessary expense. “We’re really looking at the social, emotional heart of the story, and not the political lens of it at all. Unless you’re really nervous that we’re somehow disrespecting the memory of Blair Waldorf, I’m not sure you could take direct offense or political concern with what we're doing.”
Unless, Gold acknowledged, someone has a problem with an all-female production. Gold welcomes anyone with that outlook to attend. “I so badly want those people to come,” she said. “Come see it. Let us try to change your mind.”
Gold said that audience members who have seen both the Pocket Universe and Shakespeare in the Park productions have told her they felt like they’d seen two entirely different plays, despite the fact that both were using the same 400-year-old script. She thinks it will take another Julius Caesar production before the association with Trump and the backlash fade away. And while her take on the material isn't politically provocative, she is confident that the Shakespeare in the Park Julius Caesar won’t be the last time the play causes an uproar.
“The play will live on after this, and there will be some other production that will cause even more controversy, something totally different,” Gold said. “It keeps being controversial for so many different reasons, depending on who the leader is, depending on how the production is done. Sometimes it’s not as controversial, sometimes it’s actually a warning that is heeded or a call to action that people need. There’s so much in there. It’s a play about so many things and so many universal truths that we’ll keep contemplating.”
Louis Peitzman is a deputy entertainment editor for BuzzFeed News and is based in New York.
Contact Louis Peitzman at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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