For the first Summer of Trump, the Public Theater is choosing a play with a message.
The theater, New York’s pre-eminent nonprofit, said Thursday that it would open its annual Shakespeare in the Park season with “Julius Caesar,” and declared, “Shakespeare’s political masterpiece has never felt more contemporary.”
The Public’s synopsis of the play makes clear that the outdoor production would have some parallels with contemporary American politics.
“Rome’s leader, Julius Caesar, is a force unlike any the city has seen,” the description reads. “Magnetic, populist, irreverent, he seems bent on absolute power. A small band of patriots, devoted to the country’s democratic traditions, must decide how to oppose him.”
The play is an unusual choice for the annual summer program: During the 55 years of free theater in Central Park, “Julius Caesar” has been done just once, in 2000. And this summer’s production will be directed by Oskar Eustis, the Public’s artistic director, who last directed a show in the park in 2008 (“Hamlet”).
“Julius Caesar” will be followed by more familiar summer fare: a production of “A Midsummer Night’s Dream,” directed by Lear deBessonet. The comedy was previously staged in the park in 1982, 1991 and 2007.
“Julius Caesar” is to run from May 23 to June 18, and “A Midsummer Night’s Dream,” from July 11 to Aug. 13. Casting has not yet been announced.
Most of the tickets to Shakespeare in the Park are distributed, for free, on the day of the performance, either in person or by a digital lottery.