By Annalese Gerber
Who knew that a Shakespearean play from the 17th century would be the cause of so much controversy in 2017? Well that seems to be the case when New York Public Theater adapted Julius Caesar as current the current President of the United States, Donald Trump. The outrage sparked because of the scene in which several of the actors portraying senate members take turns stabbing ‘Caesar.’ Though New York Public Theater had every right to put on this production, the interpretation of violence against any public figure–especially one currently in office–is in poor taste.
Our country is currently a divided place, and when violence towards a public figure is depicted in our community, it moves closer to a fine line of normalizing violent acts. The problem with this play isn’t those that oppose it—those that jumped on stage in protest—the problem comes with those which might strongly support it. Just this month, a gunman unloaded about 60 rounds on a GOP congressional baseball practice, seriously injuring a handful of the members. Any measure that this country could take to prevent heinous crimes at this time would be valuable. The thing is, it’s okay to oppose Trump, but there are smarter ways to do so if you don’t agree with him. Rather than staging an assassination or posing with his decapitated head, Alec Baldwin frequently pokes fun of Trump on SNL with his impersonation. Violence should not be an option.
Now, we must point out that the theater had every right to put on this production. Any thought of censoring this play would be a harmful statement of the government having control over art. Art is meant to be provocative. It is sometimes made to make you feel uncomfortable. It is supposed to spark conversation, and isn’t that what we’re doing right now? It is important that there is still discussion and adapted productions of a nearly 400-year-old play.
However, the halting of production is also important after the play gained so much media attraction. We are lucky that the most backlash came from the protestor’s running onto stage instead of something more extreme.
If we must learn anything from this, and from Shakespeare’s play, it is best to keep violence out of politics, and any depiction of violence in politics.
This editorial was written by Annalese Gerber based on the opinion of a JAMS 504 editorial board.