Corey Stoll, who played Brutus in the Central Park production of Julius Caesar, has opened up about what it’s been like starring in such a hot topic show and carrying on through the occasional protest. Some of his thoughts are serious, such as his response to accusations the play actively advocates for President Trump’s assassination, but some are on the humorous side and involve a funny misunderstanding about gerbils.
Stoll penned an essay for Vulture about playing the part of Brutus, who far from espousing “bros before hos,” lived more of a ride or die, “Rome before besties” mantra and stabbed Roman hero Julius Caesar halfway through Shakespeare’s famous play. Though Stoll had reservations at first that the literal portrayal of Caesar as Trump would come across as “what could seem like a Saturday Night Live skit,” and the audience wouldn’t connect with the actors’ depth of craft. At first, the audience did respond with humor. But as the company tightened their performance, audiences stopped seeing the portrayal as funny, and instead found themselves horrified and complicit.
“The play makes it clear that Caesar’s murder, which occurs midway through the play, is ruinous for Brutus and his co-conspirators, and for democracy itself… “A nontrivial percentage of our liberal audience had fantasized about undemocratic regime change in Washington. Acted out to its logical conclusion, that fantasy was hideous, shameful, and self-defeating.”