I’m sympathetic to Catherine Rampell’s concerns in her June 20 op-ed, “The play’s not the thing,” about protests against this summer’s “Julius Caesar.” But I can’t help thinking that the Public Theater exercised questionable judgment in its decision to depict the most dramatic moment in the play in such a way that might be construed as an assassination in effigy.
It’s now common knowledge that John Wilkes Booth, who had participated in a Manhattan benefit performance of the tragedy in November 1864, regarded Abraham Lincoln as a latter-day Caesar and defined himself as a new-world Brutus. And given that precedent, it’s not unreasonable, even for those who regard the current occupant of the White House as unfit for office, to feel that this production veered perilously close to suggesting that another Booth-like “lofty scene” would be, in Hamlet’s words, “a consummation devoutly to be wished.”
John F. Andrews, Santa Fe, N.M.
The writer is president of the Shakespeare Guild.