Podcast Episode 121: Shakespeare, The Film's The Thing

Old Globe artistic director Barry Edelstein talks about the Bard on film

Saturday, June 24, 2017
By Beth Accomando

San Diego's Old Globe Theatre has an eight decade history of performing Shakespeare on stage. Now Artistic Director Barry Edelstein wants to highlight the Bard on film.

The Old Globe's summer Shakespeare film series provides the perfect excuse for a discussion of Shakespeare on film with Edelstein who is not only a scholar of Shakespeare but also an acclaimed theater director and someone who appreciates Shakespeare on film.

Shakespeare wrote for the stage some four centuries ago but his plays are readily adaptable to film in the hands of a talented director. I speak with Edelstein about the four films he has chosen for this summer's film series: Julie Taymor's "A Midsummer Night's Dream," Peter Brook's "King Lear," Al Pacino's documentary "Looking for Richard," and Baz Luhrmann's "Romeo and Juliet." If you are not in San Diego or are unable to attend these films when they screen, the good news is you can find them streaming or an DVD and Blu-ray Disc.

What also makes this discussion of the Bard timely is that Shakespeare has been in the news and even trending recently because of a production of "Julius Caesar" by the New York Public Theater in Central Park. Oskar Eustis’ production stirred controversy for having its Julius Caesar character look like Trump and be assassinated onstage. Other productions over the decades at various theaters have had a Julius Caesar that looks like Ronald Reagan, George W. Bush, Bill Clinton and Barack Obama. But this production prompted enough controversy to make the corporate sponsors of Delta Airlines and Bank of America pull their financial support.

But saying that Shakespeare's "Julius Caesar" advocates the assassination of a political leader is like saying his "Romeo and Juliet" advocates teen suicide. So I speak with Edelstein about the play "Julius Caesar" and its complex themes about politics that resonate today.