Saturday morning we were at rehearsals, Gemma and the Squirrels and I – with Turkey very much on everybody’s mind. We were going through Julius Caesar, Act III, Scene 2: Brutus and then Antony addressing the crowds. And as we worked our way through it, I had goosebumps and one of those small epiphanies: Shakespeare’s Rome and our Istanbul…
Just think of it: Brutus/the generals, trying an act of force, and offering as justification an array of abstract, icy civic virtues – whether it be saving Rome’s freedom from some hypotetical ill or secularity. Then Antony/Erdogan speaks in turn, because those who could and should prevent him, fail to do so – and he goes for the crowds’ fear of the unknown, he rallies them, manipulates their feelings and/or their greed, excites them to violence… And the crowds answer to Antony/Erdogan’s more visceral, more concrete arguments – and (make ready to) spill blood.
A tad uncanny, isn’t it? And I know it’s a very partial reading of both Shakespeare and the Turkish matter (about which, by the way, all sorts of conspiracy theories are cropping out), but still the parallels are there.
What’s more, I’m using them to illustrate motivation to the Squirrels, and it works very well, sparking off some lively discussion and adding layers. Sometimes in Italy we need a reminder that dead poets aren’t all that dead, after all. And the whole was a fearfully effective lesson in how not neglecting communication is far from enough – if one doesn’t also understand its workings.