Donald Trump presaged
in classical theatre
Life meets art in the character of the U.S. President
By Incog Nito
This listing is not meant to praise nor disparage President Donald J. Trump, but merely to point out some lines in well known plays that ring again in some of his actions.
Viewers are encouraged to add other plays to this list of three.
Enemy of The People
This is an obvious choice as Trump has used this denunciation from Ibsen’s 1882 play often against media and journalists.
There, medical Dr. Tomas Stockmann calls attention to water contamination in a resort town, thinking this revelation would be applauded. However, as the town’s economy depends on its spa, opposition grew until his own brother (the mayor) denounces him as “an enemy of the people”, his house stoned and his family ostracised.
Here is a scene from the Broadway play with Richard Thomas and Boyd Gaines:
A Midsummer’s Night Dream
In Shakespeare’s 1696 play, a group of six “rude mechanicals” rehearses to put on a play for royalty.
As leader Quince casts the individuals, Nick Bottom, selected as the lead, Pyramus, declares that he is best suited to also play his love interest Thisby and as a tyrant rather than as a mere lover. He can also best play, he intimates, a lion, a wall and the moon, although others finally do so.
Trump has declared that no one knows taxation better than him, nor international relations, nor other subjects that arise from time to time.
Leaving aside the relevant phrase that “this is the winter of my discontent” in Shakespeare’s 1593 play, King Richard disposed of about a dozen rivals or critics, young or old.
Trump has had, as early as January 19, 2018, five times more staff turnover in his first year than the previous five presidents put together in their first years. These departures, whether by resignation or dismissal, have grown even more rapidly in his second year, leaving many commentators to view them as a continuation of his hosting the TV series The Apprentice (2008-2015) and issuing “you’re fired” announcements.
(These firings, though more numerous than Richard’s, have not included any one being drowned in a butt of Malmsey wine.)
Here are scenes from the play starring Kevin Spacey:
As above, viewers are encouraged to submit other theatrical parallels.
We may post the best submissions in the near future.
Read also: Home Sweet Home (with nuclear fallout)
Byron Toben is the immediate past-president of the Montreal Press Club.