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Wednesday, March 15, 2017

beware the ides of march

Last month, my mother and I were looking at some old photos and we came across a couple of black and white shots that I didn't remember seeing before, or if I had seen them before I hadn't realized what I was looking at. Two English degrees have made me something of an expert on the significance of togas and raised daggers so I am now able to make a definite identification of the subject matter. 

Apparently, my father had been in a student production of Julius Caesar at Prince of Wales Collegiate and I had never known about it.

I can't get over these photographs. I love them so much I just have to share them with the world.
Ray Simmons (3rd from right) in a PWC production of Julius Caesar. Daily News photo, c. 1946
The first Shakespeare I ever read was Julius Caesar and I believe my love for this long-dead English guy began in Act 1, scene 1, when this Roman guy said, "You blocks, you stones, you worse than senseless things!"

"That Shakespeare really knew how to throw shade," I thought to myself, or words to that effect. I was 13 or 14 at the time so I'm sure I knew all the current slang.

The photos had the copyright owner on the back - The Daily News - but since I have also learned a thing or two about copyright, I knew they had to be public domain since the production could be no later than 1946 which is when my dad graduated (I think, still waiting for confirmation of that but my math skills tell me that it's earlier than 1948 so I'm safe).

But there was no indication of what role my father was playing. Was he a block or a stone? A lowly messenger doomed to read his missives and exit, stage left?  I formed a great hope that he was Mark Antony because Antony has a really cool speech; my dad was really cool too but I could find no proof in the picture.

The crime scene photographs showed he was at the Senate during the assassination but offered no other clues about his part in the plot.

My first thought was to ask my Aunt Ruth since he was her big brother and she might remember. So I sent a message to my Cousin Debbie to ask her to ask her mother if this rang any bells.

Cousin Debbie, who is a professional actress, replied that she had no need to ask her mother because my father's theatrical exploits were legendary in her household already. My aunt so loved the production that she still owned the very sandals that my father wore.

And if that wasn't astounding enough, my aunt, a retired elementary school teacher in Milwaukee, had put on a Grade 6 production of the play every year in my dad's honour.
Ray Simmons crouching on the far left, waiting for his chance to strike. Daily News photo, c. 1946.
And he wasn't a block or a stone or an Antony, he played the lead role of Brutus!

He played the guy who struck the final blow upon his best friend. His victim's dying words are still quoted to this day even though they're in a dead language and many people don't know who they are quoting.

My dad was "Et tu, Bruté?".

Sadly I didn't think to check for the reviews in the local media until this morning. If I find such a thing I will share it here.

If the Doctor ever shows up and offers me a ride in his Tardis to anywhere in time or space, I now know where I would want to go.

1 comment:

  1. Nancy, this is FANTASTIC!!! What a find! I hope the Doctor DOES show up one day ... how fun would THAT be?? HA HA HA