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An afternoon bathing beachside in the sun, followed by old fashions at a classic Wisconsin supper club, capped off with some Shakespeare…that’s a good day. As cliché as it sounds, it’s true - Door County has something for everyone. And whether you know it or not, Shakespeare is for everyone!
My husband, sister, and I take our seats in a clearing of Bjorklunden’s green, gorgeous campus. The winds blowing off Lake Michigan rustled the tree canopy creating an enchanting, almost eerie atmosphere. Door Shakespeare’s production of Julius Caesar begins. And it begins as many of Shakespeare’s plays begin - with shouting and insults: “Hence! Home, you idle creatures, get you home! Is this a holiday?”
The tragic play centers on the assassination of Rome’s famous dictator Julius Caesar, primarily the men responsible for his grisly assassination and their subsequent demise, complete with unruly mobs, spooky ghosts, and a few intentional run-ins with “thy own sword.”
The cast of diverse ages, sex, and race, deliver the lyrical lines of Shakespeare brilliantly, capturing the emotions of the characters so well that even when I lose my way in the language of Elizabethan times (which happens, this English major is not ashamed to admit) they keep me engaged and able to follow the plot. (Helpful hint: read the synopsis of Shakespeare’s plays before you see them. Better to take in the language and character dynamics then worry about the basic plot.)
And as far away as 44 BC or circa 1599 AD seems, Julius Caesar presents a relevant set of scenes and circumstances. When the wife of one assassin, Portia, confronts her husband Brutus about his bizarre behavior after the murder of Caesar and not-so-convincing excuse that he’s ill, I had a knowing smile: “What, is Brutus sick, and will he steal out of his wholesome bed to dare the vile contagion of the night? No, my Brutus; you have some sick offence with your mind.” I’ve only been married a month, but I think many a wife and husband has had similar conversations with their partners.
And on a much larger scale, the recent attempted coup in Turkey, the tension of our upcoming presidential election, and Brexit all, in their own way, echo the themes and plot of Julius Caesar. Bottom line – Shakespeare is awesomely, surprisingly relevant. And Door Shakespeare is an accessible, welcoming organization that not only offers an incredible theater experience, but an educational series, children’s theater camps, and a few wine nights.
After the performance, when most of the main characters have met their brutal end, my brain in busy with Shakespeare, the Bard, Billy. I don’t know how to eloquently capture my appreciation for him and Door Shakespeare, but I think these socks are a start…
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