I love working as a dramaturg. I love studying, researching, and learning new things, and being able to treasure new knowledge in my life. Being part of the Julius Caesar production team has been a great and revealing experience. I quickly found out that as an Italian native who now lives in the United States, I have a lot of bias when it comes to my culture. First and foremost, Caesar is never the “bad guy” in my eyes, and I would dare to say he is not the bad guy in the eyes of most Italians as well. Scholars have debated about whether Caesar was a tyrant, would have been a tyrant, or if he would have been just, bringing serenity to a fractioned country. The truth is we will never know because he was murdered before he could become what he had envisioned himself to be.
Caesar’s success among the people was possible not only because of his brilliant intellect and combat skills but also because he wasn’t so far removed from everyday people. Although his family had noble origins, debt and economic difficulty allowed him to grow up with the common people, speaking their dialect and understanding their way of life. Most other patrician families were often removed from living close to plebeians and did not have many interactions with them. This allowed Caesar to be perceived as “one of us” instead of “one of them”. Caesar is still perceived as “one of us” if we consider the many flowers and notes still left at his burial place. Brutus is then, in my eyes, left as the true villain of this tragedy for one simple reason: betrayal. Not only betrayal itself, but betrayal of family, as Caesar was like a father to him. This is something that doesn’t sit well in Italian culture. Family is the societal institution one should always be able to trust. Enemies are outside the walls of the home, not inside. For this reason, no matter the most compelling motives to get rid of Caesar, Brutus will always be a traitor of the worst kind.
It has been an enlightening experience to question my bias with the interpretations of the director and the cast who had different perspectives. It has taught me to challenge my assumptions more, and always look for different perspectives.