By Gary Taylor (auth.)
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Extra info for Moment by Moment by Shakespeare
In modern productions those familiar with the play are, almost inevitably, painfully aware of the efforts of director and cast to make sure that Caesar winds up dead on the right spot. When it first appears, to an innocent audience the statue is simply a prop which helps identify and dignify the setting; only after the assassination do we realize that it is very particularly the statue ofCaesar's old enemy. In the Popilius Lena episode, and the change of locale associated with it, the use of language where mere action would apparently suffice proves on closer examination to be essential to the successful communication of the action.
But before the assassination Shakespeare uses the same plurality of actors to suggest a community of intent. The community of the conspirators contrasts most forcibly of course with the isolation of Caesar. Caesar is soon to be murdered, and murdered as Hector and Coriolanus are, in ambush by a group. Even were he the monster some critics and some productions claim him to be, his two long speeches here, and the final appeal to Brutus, suggest that Shakespeare means us to be more than mildly interested in him at this juncture.
Casca's and Caesar's lines here are probably examples; so are Cordelia's lines in the reunion with Lear ('And so I am, I am'; 'No cause, no cause'). Although a wordless assassination or a wordless reunion might well be as exciting or as moving in the theatre, they would not, even in the theatre, provide us with such means for retaining (during the play, and beyond it) that excitement or that emotion, nor with such incentives to seek it again. Moreover, even in the theatre, the words serve the function of locating the emotion, providing it with a specific cue, so that the audience responds in unison.
Moment by Moment by Shakespeare by Gary Taylor (auth.)