¶ 2017 has been the summer of “Caesar.” It is one of the two new plays that OPS Fest has introduced into their repertoire. It is also playing at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival down in Ashland. The director of that production, in a talk-back in February, stated that she doesn’t know why there are acts four and five (read: anything after the murder of Caesar). That is a common misconception if you think the play is an autobiographical account rather than considering what is tragic about the quality of a major political figure’s death. The title is, after all, “The Tragedy of Julius Caesar” and not “The History of Julius Caesar.” Hence the on-going problems with the Public’s production of this play in New York, as company member Hailey Bachrach discusses here. What does OPS Fest offer to the spectrum of “Caesars” out there this summer?
¶ “The Merry Wives of Windsor” is also known as “that other Falstaff” play. The rumor goes that Queen Elizabeth, having been moved by William Shakespeare’s revisions of several older plays into a coherent teratology we call the Henriad, requested Falstaffe be written into another play. But he was already dead by the start of “Henry V,” so now what? “Merry Wives” conscripts the genre of angry women plays to provide a simultanequel: a simultaneous universe where Falstaffe doesn’t die, and instead enjoys his knighthood in the rolling countryside of Windsor. This composition context of “Merry Wives” makes it a perfect play to talk about your brain on repertory.