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BWW Flashback: From JULIUS CAESAR to THE PARISIAN WOMAN, Broadway Often Gets Political

Theater has never been removed from the outside world, which means that shows have always covered topics relevant to the time, like the HIV/AIDS epidemic, the civil rights movement and even politics.

With Beau Willimon's The Parisian Woman beginning previews earlier this week, lets take a look back at seven other plays that have dramatized the often unbelievable world of politics.


OSLO

OSLO tells the story about two diplomats from Norway who, in 1993, negotiated the Oslo Peace Accords between the Israelis and Palestinians. After an acclaimed Off-Broadway run, the play started previews at the Vivian Beaumont Theatre on March 3 of this year and ended their run on July 16. In June the play won the 2017 Tony Award for Best Play.


1984

The classic dystopian novel, written by George Orwell, was transformed into a play by Robert Icke and Duncan Macmillan. "1984" follows Winston Smith in a universe where the all-powerful, totalitarian Big Brother is always watching. "The Party" indoctrinates their propaganda to the people from a young age, changing history to conform to their own, self-serving version of events. The play started its run this past May and recently ended the run at the Hudson Theare in October.


ALL THE WAY

This play, named after former President Lyndon B. Johnson's 1964 campaign slogan, focuses on the civil rights movement. In the show, despite his Dixiecrat heritage, Johnson uses his political skill to pass the Civil Rights Act of 1964, teaming W.T. Martin Luther King Jr. to convince members of Congress to stand behind the controversial legislation. ALL THE WAY had a short four-month Broadway stint at the Neil Simon Theatre in 2014, but won Tonys for playwright Robert Schenkkan (Best Play) and Best Actor in a Play (Bryan Cranston).

The drama was later adapted into an award-winning television movie for HBO.


JULIUS CAESAR

JULIUS CAESAR is one of, if not, the oldest plays about politics that is still regularly performed today. Written by William Shakespeare, the play is believed to have been written around 1600. Ending in tragedy, the play shows the struggle of Marcus Brutus and how he must decide whether to help to kill Julius Caesar. The show has been produced on Broadway 20 times, but only once (in 2005) since 1950.

This past summer, the show became a hot button point of contention as The Public Theater staged the classic at the Delacorte Theatre in Central Park, with the main characters being modeled after the current president and his inner circle. The fact that the title character is brutally assassinated on stage drew the ire of many of the president's supporters.


HAMILTON (1917)

BWW Flashback: From JULIUS CAESAR to THE PARISIAN WOMAN, Broadway Often Gets Political
Jeanne Eagels with George Arliss in the play HAMILTON
Photo Credit: The Bellman Co.

When most people hear HAMILTON, they think about the Broadway musical currently setting records at Broadway's Richard Rodgers Theatre, written by, and originally starring, Lin-Manuel Miranda.

However, a play of the same name was actually written about Alexander Hamilton's life and appeared on Broadway nearly 100 years before the hit musical took to the stage.

The original Broadway production of HAMILTON the play was written by Mary Hamlin and George Arliss. The latter also starred as the "ten-dollar founding father," and the play ran from September through November of 1917 at the Kinickerbocker Theatre, which was demolished in 1930.

Much like the musical, the play follows Hamilton's life during the formation of the United States.


THE CRUCIBLE

THE CRUCIBLE, which originally opened in 1953, was written by Arthur Miller. The play centered on the Salem witch trials and was an allegory for Senator Joseph McCarthy's use of the Committee on Un-American Activities to go after suspected Communists in the United State following World War II.

The play has been produced on Broadway six times, including last year, starring Saoirse Ronan, Sophie Okonedo, Ben Whishaw, Bill Camp, Tavi Gevinson, and more. .


FROST/NIXON

FROST/NIXON, written by Peter Morgan, is about the interviews British journalist David Frost conducted in 1977 with the former U.S. President Richard Nixon. The interviews covered many topics, including the Watergate scandal, and were revelatory because of what Frost was able to convince the disgraced president to reveal on camera.

Written by Peter Morgan, the play ran for five months on Broadway, winning Frank Langella his third of four Tony Awards. The play was made into a film the following year starring the show's stage stars Langella and Michael Sheen.


THE PARISIAN WOMAN

The theater will always be a place where current topics are discussed, as art has always been one of the best ways to speak truth to power. If you did not get enough politics with last year's presidential election, The Parisian Woman starts previews at the Hudson Theatre on Nov. 9, and follows a group of powerful friends in the shade of the 2016 election. The cast starts Uma Thurman, Josh Lucas, Blair Brown, Marton Csokas and Phillipa Soo.

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