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The Players Revivals 1927: Julius Caesar by William Shakespeare


Program Cover of Julius Caesar by William Shakespeare
Program Cover of Julius Caesar by William Shakespeare

In the first half of the 20th century, there were no fewer than seventeen productions of Julius Caesar in New York City. Prior to that, only two are recorded: in the John Street Theatre in 1794 and a single-night benefit performance in 1864, produced by Edwin Booth at the old Winter Garden Theatre. This was notable as a night that raised four thousand dollars (over $78,000 today) for the statue of Shakespeare in Central Park. It was also the only time the Booth brothers—Edwin, Junius, Jr., and John Wilkes—appeared together on stage.

The 1927 revival by The Players at the New Amsterdam Theatre had memorable roles for leading and secondary actors among the membership and scores of supernumerary parts for others from the roster, along with their wives and sweethearts. The cast of Players included names that are still remembered nearly a century later—largely for their film work—such as Basil Rathbone as Cassius and Tyrone Power as Brutus. Harry Davenport, whose supporting film performances led to Bette Davis declaring him “the greatest character actor of all time,” appeared as Flavius. Davenport was also one of the organizers of secret meetings on the second floor of our clubhouse that led to the founding of Actors’ Equity Association.

The Players Revivals were a series of short engagements in Broadway houses mounted by the club between the world wars. With a membership comprised of producers, directors, actors, designers, and lovers of the stage, the club was well-suited to produce these plays, which were staffed entirely by club members and colleagues. The 8–10 performance runs served as a source of income for the club.

Blog Contributor
Townes Coates

Townes Coates is a writer and producer of documentary film. He serves as the twentieth President of The Players.


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