You know the line. You’ve heard it shouted melodramatically. Perhaps you’ve even bespoke it yourself, wrapped in a bedsheet-toga, during your high school English class’ Shakespearian presentations?!
But what exactly ARE the Ides of March? And, more importantly, should anyone other than an actor in ancient Roman costume be worried about them?
The Latin root of "ides" means "to divide," so, essentially, the Ides are just a term to denote the middle of the month. And it’s easy to see that a poet like Shakespeare might prefer, the snappy “Beware the Ides of March!” to a line like, “Watch out for the middle of this present month!” or “Yowza! Things gonna get cray-cray come the 15th!”
For that famous March 15 in the year 44 BCE marked the assassination of Julius Caesar. History’s most famous murder plot, organized by Caesar’s young protégé Marcus Brutus, and the rebellious Cassius Longinus, is best remembered via Shakespeare’s epic Julius Caesar. In the play, the Soothsayer gives the emperor the admonition "Beware the Ides of March." Of course, Caesar ignores the fortune teller’s warnings and, twenty-three stabbings later, greatly regrets having turned a deaf ear.
Ever since that fateful March 15, the date has come to be thought of as unlucky, not unlike a similarly mid-month-situated Friday the 13th. So, the question remains: are the Ides of March really such a bad day?
Well, not at the Virginia Stage Company! On this day the Education Team is working with third and fourth grade children at Larchmont Elementary to create a “Wizard of Oz”-themed production. Our Resident Dramaturg and Resident Theatre Artists are teaching the joys of Shakespeare to high school aged students at Norfolk Academy. The hard-working VSC Administration is discussing dollars at the Finance Meeting. And, best of all, this wonderful Wednesday is another chance to see the thrilling VSC presentation of Venus in Fur at the Wells Theatre!
Beware the Ides of March? At VSC, we celebrate them!