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Photo of the Week, 25: Et tu, Brute? “Julius Caesar” at the Consistory, 1931

Long before the 1978 inaugural season of what would become the Illinois Shakespeare Festival (held at the Ewing Cultural Center), local residents enjoyed one of the Bard's tragedies at another popular Bloomington venue.

This October 1931 staging of Shakespeare's “Julius Caesar" was the work of Delmar D. Darrah. A tireless leader of the fraternal society known as the Accepted Scottish Rite of Freemasonry (or Masons for short), Darrah played an instrumental role in the construction of the Consistory / Scottish Rite Temple, which opened in 1922 on the north end of downtown. With the temple's auditorium and oversized stage in mind, he created a series of ambitious theatrical productions, most famously “The American Passion Play." Today, the Consistory is known as the Bloomington Center for Performing Arts.

Clearly, Darrah's “Julius Caesar" made expert use of the Passion Play's costumes and famous hand-painted canvass drops. As Hamlet tells Gertrude in Act 3 of another Shakespeare tragedy, “Oh, 'tis most sweet, / When in one line two crafts directly meet."

Bill Kemp

Bill Kemp

Bill Kemp is the Librarian at the McLean County Museum of History