Pentagram designs graphics for Trumpian take on Shakespeare

Paula Scher produces series of Shakespeare in the Park posters befitting a distinctly 2017 take on Julius Caesar
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Pentagram's new subway poster for Public Theater's 2017 production of Julius Ceasar. 
All images courtesy of Pentagram
Pentagram's new subway poster for Public Theater's 2017 production of Julius Ceasar.
All images courtesy of Pentagram

He was the ancient world’s political disruptor, who overturned conventional political norms, appointing himself as supreme leader of the world’s most powerful state, until his assassination.

When New York’s Public Theater came to choose this year's play for its annual, free Shakespeare in the Park, a contemporary reinterpretation of The Bard’s 1599 play proved too tempting an opportunity to pass up.

 

Pentagram's new bus placard for Public Theater's 2017 production of Julius Ceasar
Pentagram's new bus placard for Public Theater's 2017 production of Julius Ceasar

Paula Scher, partner at leading design agency Pentagram (which also designed our recent books The World is Your Burger, How to See and Steven Holl), has been working up the posters and signage for these productions since 1994, and knows how to present an old English play to a contemporary NY audience.

For the first time in over twenty years, Scher alongside her colleague at the Public Theater, Kirstin Huber, has chosen to divide the 2017 campaign into two parts. This first set of Barbara-Kruger-style posters and signs refer explicitly to Julius Caesar, reproducing lines that have strong latter-day resonances. Later this summer Pentagram will debut a series of posters for A Midsummer’s Night Dream, which opens in the park in July.

 

Pentagram's new bus placard for Public Theater's 2017 production of Julius Ceasar
Pentagram's new bus placard for Public Theater's 2017 production of Julius Ceasar

Scher’s distinctly Trumpian take on Shakespeare’s play is in keeping with the 2017 production, which sees the Roman leader portrayed as a blond guy in a business suit.

 

Shakespeare in the Park's 2017 Julius Ceasar production. Image courtesy of The Public Theater's Instagram
Shakespeare in the Park's 2017 Julius Ceasar production. Image courtesy of The Public Theater's Instagram
 

This controversial updating has already caused Delta Air Lines and Bank of America to pull their sponsorship. Pentagram is unlikely to carry out a similar, Brutus-style betrayal, though its posters do prove just how up-to-date a 418-year-old dramatic work can seem.

 

Pentagram's new signage for Public Theater's 2017 production of Julius Ceasar
Pentagram's new signage for Public Theater's 2017 production of Julius Ceasar

For more politically charged graphic design get Visual Impact; for more on Pentagram's origins, take a look at our books by its founder, Alan Fletcher.


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