Prof. Maria Wyke on Shaw’s Caesar and Cleopatra
NB: this seminar will take place on Wednesday, not Tuesday.
Vivien Leigh and Laurence Olivier in Shaw’s Caesar & Cleopatra, 1951
Maria Wyke (University College, London)
Lessons in Leadership & History: Bernard Shaw’s Caesar on Stage and Screen
First performed in 1899, Shaw’s play Caesar and Cleopatra offers lessons in leadership and the presentation of history. A weary elder statesman, this Julius Caesar promotes the honourable exercise of power. His troublesome young pupil Cleopatra, however, sees through his self-construction as a quasi-mystical authority and yearns for love. This talk explores how Shaw’s Caesar engages with contemporary concerns about British imperial identity and how his lessons take on new meaning when re-performed on stage and screen up to the end of the Second World War.