I caught the second-to-last performance of Southern California Shakespeare Festival‘s Julius Caesar on Saturday. This production was not my favorite of all time, but the casting and the acting were fantastic. It was completely modernized — a woman (my former film professor, actually) played Caesar, and it took the David Fincher-esque thriller route over the toga and Greco-Roman architecture one. There were a few bizarre moments in the play, like Caesar dying three times and narration from the soothsayer that isn’t in the text, but overall I really enjoyed the performance.
I’ve taken four classes with a really great literature professor whose speciality is Shakespeare. In the second class of my undergraduate career, he asked me and the rest of my composition class a very simple, but important question that has consequentially shaped how I think about the world. If X is a thing — and you can fill X in with just about anything — what does X do?
Taking a step back, thinking about the function of something, and being able to cultivate a better understanding of how that thing shapes our perception is a powerful learning experience.
All I could think about through the entire production was the “What does X do?” question. I’ve read Julius Caesar twice, so I’m fairly familiar with the text. With every syllable and movement, I was analyzing performance choices and spatial relationships and figuring out how those two concepts were affecting my view of the play. It’s one thing to read Shakespeare, but to experience it while it’s being performed in front of you with this mindset is incredibly special.
While musing about my weekend this morning, I decided that my new bucket list entry is to see as many Shakespearian plays as possible. I’ve already seen Hamlet, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, The Taming of the Shrew, The Tempest, and now Julius Caesar, so I’m already off to a great start.
Did you muse about anything today? Let me know in the comments.