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Talking Shakespeare

Notes from a Journey


Louis Fantasia

Talking Shakespeare is a collection of essays on Shakespeare’s plays and politics and their impact in the world today. Originally given as provocative talks on Shakespeare at some of the most prestigious universities, conferences, and theatres around the world, they reflect on the author’s more than thirty-year career as a producer, director and educator. The essays provide a unique and personal look into multiple aspects of Shakespeare’s world—and ours.


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Chapter 8. Men in Sheets: Julius Caesar and Coriolanus


· 8 · MEN IN SHEETS: JULIUS CAESAR AND CORIOLANUS (“Learning to Like Julius Caesar” was the opening talk at “Beware the Ides of March,” a workshop and conference sponsored by the Shakespeare Globe USA at the Beverly Hills Public Library in 1997. “Coriolanus and Regime Change” was the opening talk for “Democracy, Dictatorship and Drama,” a two- day conference on Shakespeare’s Roman politics held in conjunction with The Getty Center and LA Unified School District in September, 2003) I grew up in the house my mother’s father built. The house was a block- and- a-half from the elementary school I attended, and a block from the junior high that came afterwards. It was across the street from the school playground and park where they held high school football practice in the fall and Little League tryouts in the spring. For the first ten years of my education, my world was contained mostly in those two blocks. These blocks were occupied by Italian families, most of whom were relat- ed to me somehow (except for the Reillys at the end of the street, who were Irish Catholic and had something like eight or ten children). There was my grandfather’s brother’s widow and her sister, along with my mother’s cous- in, some second- cousins, others who had come from the same village as my grandfather, as well as my mother’s sister. Needless to say, every step I took along this route was watched by some Italian matriarch, somewhere along the line. If anything...

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