Showing posts with the label Julius Caesar

Mercury Theatre

The Mercury Theatre was a theatre company Welles established with John Houseman in 1937, right after Welles finished his work with the Federal Theatre Project. It would later have an incarnation as Mercury Theatre On the Air, the radio series in which the infamous “ War of the Worlds” broadcast would air. Productions of the Mercury Theatre were: Julius Caesar  The Shoemaker’s Holiday  Heartbreak House  Danton’s Death  Five Kings Always ambitious and goal-oriented, Welles wanted first to clarify and publicize the Mercury Theatre’s aims. So on August 29, Welles published, on the front page of the New York Times Sunday drama section, the theatre’s “declaration of principles.” These were few in number, promising merely that Mercury would produce four or five classic plays that had some current political relevance. However, the quality of the play would always be a more important criteria than its political content. Mercury would offer tickets at two dollars and under.

Orson Welles Julius Caesar

Shakespeare was always a favorite of Welles’. When he was a student at the Todd School in Woodstock, IL, he conceived and produced a Shakespeare festival, directing such plays as Twelfth Night, The Merchant of Venice, and Julius Caesar. He would later make a film version of Macbeth. So it is no surprise that when, along with John Houseman, he founded the Mercury Theatre company, their first production was Julius Caesar. Orson Welles’ Broadway production of Julius Caesar, debuting Nov. 11, 1937, was staged in modern dress and was intended as a polemic against the fascist forces growing dangerously in Europe. Upon the birth of the Mercury Theatre company, Welles and (to what degree is unknown) Houseman drafted and presented a Declaration of Principles, published on the front page of the New York Times drama section. On the company’s political intentions, it declared that aesthetics came first and that it would never choose a play on the basis of political content. Since Welles had