Thursday, June 20, 2019

Book Note: Julius Caesar and Me: Exploring Shakespeare's African Play

Joseph, Patterson. Julius Caesar and Me: Exploring Shakespeare's African Play. London: Methuen Drama (Bloomsbury), 2018.

I wrote briefly on the Julius Caesar with a modern African setting that was directed by Gregory Doran (for which, q.v.). Since then, I've taught the film, written about it elsewhere, and used it as part of a few presentations.

And now, Patterson Joseph, the Brutus from that stage play and film, has written something of a memoir, autobiography, biography of that production, and critical work called Julius Caesar and Me: Exploring Shakespeare's African Play, and it's fascinating.

The first section is autobiographical—how Joseph became an actor. The second part provides a reading of the play itself—together with some historical context for the play in Africa.  And the third (and longest) section provides a detailed history of Doran's production and Joseph's participation in it.

I'm giving you chapter four as a sample—it will provide a good flavor of the rest of the book.

The book is centered on a production history, but there are also many insights into the play—and, particularly, into the character of Brutus.  I was particularly struck by these thoughts about Brutus' second scene (from page 63):

All in all, this was a fabulous book to read. It's very helpful in understanding Doran's production in depth, but that's not all it offers.

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Unless otherwise indicated, quotations from Shakespeare's works are from the following edition:
Shakespeare, William. The Riverside Shakespeare. 2nd ed. Gen. ed. G. Blakemore Evans. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1997.
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