History has not always been kind to women. Because of the hierarchy of sexes, women haven’t always found their way into the history books. Imagine all the incredible stories and personalities we have missed because of that. In our world, men are often seen as strong, hard-working, and never ruled by emotions, while women are gentle, highly emotional, and ruled by men. Many of Shakespeare’s plays deconstruct gender norms and allow for fluidity, not caring too much for strict gender roles. He has shown this with a few of his plays, such as Twelfth Night and As You Like It. Although the original Julius Caesar does not play with gender-swapping, we’d like to think Shakespeare would have been on board with this BYU production.
An interesting critical perspective that this play invites the audience to ponder is, Where does power lie? What would our world look like if women were in power? Historical events might have happened differently. (Or maybe they would have been unbelievably similar.) Some things we’ll never know; but how fascinating it is to let our imagination run free and imagine a world spinning in a different direction. The shifting of power dynamics in the play might also help us ponder our gut reactions. Does it hit us differently to see a woman scheme and execute an assassination? Would the audience be more accustomed if it was a man? Whether the answer is yes or no, it is something worth thinking about. It can help us realize how many things we take for granted.
Through the beauty of theatre, it is possible to imagine different realities. Good critical thinking can also help us improve our present reality and realize that sometimes it could be good to break from norms.