On January 30, 2014 the Donmar Warehouse production of William Shakespeare’s Coriolanus was broadcast live in cinemas around the world. One of Shakespeare’s later and lesser known plays, Coriolanus deals with a deeply flawed character at the centre of the very crux of what politics is. In a democracy, the voice of the people is the thing that counts, for better or for worse. The very nature of politics, the negotiation of power in the public sphere, is at the centre of this story, personified in the titular character: Caius Martius, named Coriolanus for his single-handed victory in Corioles, is a brilliant warrior — but a shit politician. He hates the populace, he’s a classist aristocratic snob who believes that some were born to rule — to rule with an iron hand. The people, in his mind, don’t deserve welfare, participation in government, a voice. In short, democracy isn’t for him.
Trouble is, he’s living in one. Continue reading →