Andrew James Hartley
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Political theatre
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Julius Caesar opens with a scene in which authority figures struggle to read their audience. That audience, which is celebrating Caesar's triumphal return on the death of Pompey, have dispensed with those signs of their profession which would normally announce their function and status. On a crucial level, Julius Caesar is about theatre and its use on the political stage. But for a play so charged with the theatrical and with ideas of performativity, the play's stage history has been chequered at best, and reviews of strong productions invariably open with a note of surprise. Unlike other Shakespeare plays, there has been no seismic shift in Caesar's stage history, no new reading or production innovation which has transformed the play entirely in the theatre. Julius Caesar recorded historical events for its original audience, but it did so for a world which has itself become history.

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