The rise of European Fascism
Welles at the Mercury Theatre
in Julius Caesar
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In November 1937, Orson Welles's production of Julius Caesar, staged at New York's Mercury Theatre on Broadway, opened to immediate adulation and controversy. The production, famously, was decked out with all the trappings and scenic theatricality of contemporary European Fascism and renamed Caesar: Death of a Dictator. Caesar was the Mercury's Theatre's inaugural production, brought to the stage only a few months after the increasingly financially precarious outfit, headed by Welles and John Houseman, who had worked together at the Federal Theatre, came into being. Welles's cavalier attitude to characterisation took its toll with the actors, and not just those who had to share the stage with Brutus. Welles's effective absence from rehearsal as an actor led to a performance which was often hesitant about such basics as physical placement, blocking and script.

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