July is a fun time to be creative and step outside the box! Warm weather and sunshine is good for the mind and to indulge in play! For these 4 Reads for July, we’ve stepped outside the box and decided to write about four plays that make for a great outdoor read.
William Shakespeare- Julius Caesar
At the peak of power, Julius Caesar, leader of the Roman Republic, is betrayed by his Senators. But Shakespeare’s retelling doesn’t end there. This play focuses more on those responsible for organizing his demise: Marcus Brutus and Gaius Cassius. Perhaps the more intellectual of the two, Brutus becomes trapped in his guilt. Brutus is haunted by the ghost of Caesar, but the ghost only lives in his mind, tormenting so only he can see him. Cassius is opposite. Although not entirely dumb per se, he is more selfish, impulsive, and obsessed with his success. Caesar, in my opinion, was a victim of his own ignorance. Greedy men love a king who steps away from his throne to shine his crown. This is a play for those looking for a quick read and a tale about the dark relationship between trust and betrayal!
Imprisoned in Bastille at the age of nineteen, Voltaire turned punishment into opportunity to create, as any admirer of Shakespeare would! People say that things used to be better ‘way back when’, or ‘back in the day’. While that may be true for certain groups of people in some regards, this is the type of play that makes me happy I don’t remember living a life before the 20th century. Oedipus, a soon-to-be Greek king, did not receive the best of fates. After being prophesied to murder his father and marry his mother, baby Oedipus’s fate is ordered by the Queen and King of Thebes to die alone on a mountain. A sympathetic servant shows the infant pity, and is adopted by the Queen and King of Corinth. If this play isn’t irony at its finest then this world may never know what is.
Arthur Miller- The Crucible
1692, Salem Massachusetts. One of the most brutal chapters in history. Unjust trials, false imprisonment, drownings, and burnings. Anyone to have survived in that town during that time, women in particular, knew they were very lucky. The Salem Witch Trials resulted in at least twenty known executions. In The Crucible, Arthur Miller gives readers an exploration of the results of an unquestioned authority. When accusations of witchcraft cause mass hysteria, a trial is underway after a group of children are said to have been under the influence of demonic forces. A town goes mad, and main character John Proctor seeks to redeem himself of his own sins by proving the innocence of others. This was a time in American history before “Innocent before proven guilty” was written. This should have been a lesson then to prevent tragedy now, as our government is still crucifying people for no reason other than the government’s hatred for them. Although he and other characters were flawed, John Proctor knew that the women in Salem were not the witches the “government” claimed them to be, but that the same government were truly the devils in disguise. There are many interesting characters in this play, but that is a separate post entirely. I highly recommend this play for everyone, as it shines a light on problems in the past that have made their way into the present.
Lorraine Hansberry- a raisin in the sun
Written in 1953, Lorraine Hansberry’s play is about the Younger family, a Black family living in the Southside of Chicago in the 1950s, who debate on how to spend a $10,000 check after the death of a relative. Aside from money, this play also addresses issues such as racism, feminism, self-identification, and the harsh reality of surviving in America in general. Seventy plus years have passed since the setting of this play has passed, and the same issues, plus more, are still very alive in this country. This is the type of work that makes one realize that, although living in a broken system, we can all still strive for personal growth and happiness.
If you liked this months read, make sure to check out the previous months here!