Caesar Interview #7: Julius Caesar

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Assistant Director Stephanie Ramsey sat down with each member of the cast to ask them about their characters and their experiences working on the show.

Today we close out our interview series with the spectacular Bob Rosenberg, who plays the man himself: Julius Caesar.

bob's headshotSR: Tell me about your role in Julius Caesar.

BR: Well, I play a character – I never can remember the name – but I think he’s called Julius Caesar! Which is very strange, if you think about this play, because Julius Caesar doesn’t even make it halfway through Julius Caesar before he’s knocked off. But it’s still a fun role to play – and then you can hear what people say about you after you’re dead

SR: How did you get involved in Britches and Hose?

BR: Well I knew Leandra [Lynn, managing director] and some other people. The first thing I did with them was I played Polonius in Hamlet. And I think I had seen a couple things they’d done before hand, so I knew the group.

SR: How has it been working on this production?

BR: Oh, it’s always fun. It’s a blast. The gender-neutral thing is different –never had experienced that before I did the play with them. It seems – you would think it would seem really strange – but once you’re into it, you don’t really notice that I’m being attacked by all women.

SR: Why should everyone come see Julius Caesar?

BR: Well for one thing they’ve probably never seen a gender-neutral production before this. And for as popular a play as this is – practically everybody I think has read it in high school – You don’t see that many productions of it around, surprisingly. I haven’t noticed that, anyway. So I think it’s a really good chance to see one of his better plays, and people should come and see it.

SR: If you had to describe Julius Caesar in a word…?

BR: This production… I don’t know – like I said: unusual. It’s going to be very bare bones, which might come as a surprise to a lot of people, but it is kind of like the way Shakespeare would do it. He didn’t use much in the way of props or sets. So I think it’s authentic in that sense.

SR: And how would you describe Julius Caesar the man?

Julius Caesar himself is the kind of much-different-than-me character I like to play. He’s very pompous, and arrogant, and confidant. So, I’m not all of those things all the time. And he’s superstitious, but he’s a realist too because he knows that he’s at the point where somebody’s going to want to knock him off – and it happens. So, yeah – good role!

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Caesar Interview #6: Casca

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Assistant Director Stephanie Ramsey sat down with each member of the cast to ask them about their characters and their experiences working on the show.

connie's headshotToday we hear from the fabulous Connie Ramsey, whose several roles include the opportunistic conspirator Casca and the loyal soldier Messala.

SR: Tell me about your role in Julius Caesar.

CR: Well, my main role is Casca, and he’s a pretty fun character. He’s kind of a weasel. He tries to figure out what the winning side is, and he wants to be on the winning side, and then he gives it his all to be on that winning side. And then I get to play a whole bunch of little characters, and that’s fun too.

SR: How did you get involved in Britches and Hose?

CR: Well, my daughter is the assistant director [Stephanie Ramsey] and I’ve actually known James since Stephanie was a freshman in college, because James was Stephanie’s director way back when, so I met him when Stephanie was in an Ionesco production, I’m pretty sure.

SR: How has it been working on this production?

CR: It’s been wonderful working with this crew. This is my first time in a play and it’s been a wonderful, wonderful, wonderful introduction to working with everybody – I’m having a ball. Everyone’s been great – very supportive – anything I don’t know: no big deal. They tell me; they teach me. It’s just great.

SR: Why should everyone come see Julius Caesar?

CR: Because the people who are playing the major roles are doing a really fine job of speaking the words and getting the meaning across and getting all the mixed emotions of all the characters. You know, Brutus is so noble and he doesn’t know what the right thing to do is. Should he kill Caesar because he loves Rome more than he loves Caesar? And he does, but he certainly has a hard time with it. And Cassius is all concerned about Rome, although he’s certain he knows what the right thing to do is. Casca, like I said, he’s just trying to figure out what the winning side is, and he wants to be on that side! It’s a really good production of Julius Caesar.

SR: If you had to describe Julius Caesar in a word…?

CR: Exciting!

Caesar Interview #5: Cassius

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Assistant Director Stephanie Ramsey sat down with each member of the cast to ask them about their characters and their experiences working on the show.

my headshotToday we talk with the lively Sarah Pfanz, who plays the choleric conspirator Cassius.

SR: Tell me about your role in Julius Caesar.

SP: I play several people, but my primary role is Caius Cassius Longinus, who is the hot-headed, very emotional conspirator with a lean and hungry look who convinces Brutus that assassinating Caesar is the right thing to do.

SR: How did you get involved in Britches and Hose?

SP: So Relle [Seidman] and I went to the same college – we both went to Bryn Mawr College and were members of Bryn Mawr Shakespeare Performance Troupe. When I moved to DC a couple years ago, another Mawrter friend reminded me that Relle had started a theatre company back forever ago, and I should see if that was still active. So I went and checked, and as luck would have it, they had just started The Winter’s Tale, but someone had unexpectedly dropped, so they needed someone to play the Clown. So I sent her a message and said I was in the area, and she said to come on by and I’ve been here ever since.

SR: How has it been working on this production?

SP: It’s been a lot of fun. This is a smaller cast than I’ve worked with on anything in forever, but it’s been a lot of fun working with the same group of people. I was really excited about getting to work with Relle [who plays Brutus], because even though we’ve been in lots of the same shows at Bryn Mawr, our characters never really interacted, so we’ve never actually been scene partners before. So it’s been a lot of fun giving her bad ideas about assassinations.

SR: Why should everyone come see Julius Caesar?

SP: First of all, Julius Caesar is even more overbearingly masculine than a lot of Shakespeare’s other plays, which is saying something because the men always outnumber the women in Shakespeare’s plays. It’s fun to see it done by a gender-blind troupe so you have these fascinating characters played by both genders, rather than anyone who’s female being relegated to just Portia, or just Calphurnia. Also I feel that our production is very character driven, which is a nice change. It also emphasizes all the characters. When we first started this, I was looking up on Sparknotes and things like that to see what their analyses of characters were, and invariably the only characters they bothered talking about were Brutus, Caesar, and Antony, and I was like, “Okay, Cassius has more lines than two of those, I don’t know what you’re doing.” And they would just completely ignore Portia, and Octavius, and Casca entirely, so I like that we give all of them attention here.

SR: If you had to describe Julius Caesar in a word…?

SP: So the English word I would use for this play is justice

SR: I’m just curious, what was the other word you were thinking of?

SP: The word I was thinking of specifically – I like reading about the French Revolution, and the governing principle throughout a lot of French Revolutionary rhetoric is that of virtue. Virtue in that sense means putting the needs of the republic over the individual, even if that means turning in your friends or family if they are detrimental to the republic, which turned out to be quite toxic in that context because then the Reign of Terror happened and everyone got paranoid and sad. But Brutus has a monologue that very much hearkens back to that. His speech to the citizens about his motivations for killing Caesar – “not that I loved Caesar less, but that I loved Rome more” – is very much embodying that principle of virtue. And actually, they had a bust of Brutus in the Jacobin Club, where a lot of the leading politicians during the French Revolution would meet and discuss their ideas. So they were very intentionally drawing parallels between themselves and Brutus and the other conspirators as bringers of liberty. And it ended about as well for them as it did for Brutus and Cassius, so maybe that was a poor choice – but still, that’s the non-English word that I think of.

Caesar Interview #4: Titinius

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Assistant Director Stephanie Ramsey sat down with each member of the cast to ask them about their characters and their experiences working on the show.

jason's headshotToday we interview the fantastic Jason Malm, whose many roles include the stalwart soldier Titinius, Caesar’s heir Octavius, and the Soothsayer who delivers the play’s most iconic line.

SR: Tell me about your role in Julius Caesar.

JM: Well, I play several roles, starting with the cobbler, who is a fun character to play – he’s very excited, very happy to be seeing Julius Caesar come, and then he gets shot down by Flavius and his partner there, and he has to run off. And then the Soothsayer, who’s a major character but a small part, has big tidings of what’s to come. And the citizens also are fun to play – at the beginning of the scene they’re all for Brutus and saying Caesar was a tyrant, but then somehow Antony comes and completely reverses their position on things, which is a fun thing to do. There’s Titinius – That’s a very dramatic scene with his suicide – spoiler alert, sorry! And there’s just a bunch of fun roles to play, and playing on both sides of the conspirators and also the side of Antony is interesting to do.

SR: How did you get involved in Britches and Hose?

Well, I went to see a play a while back – it was with a different theatre company –and then that’s how I met one of the cast members here and he encouraged me to come out for a Britches and Hose production for auditions for the [One-Act Festival]. And I did that, and I came back again for Julius Caesar.

SR: How has it been working on this production?

Oh, it’s a great crew. It’s very amazing; people have three times as many lines as I do and they’re doing extraordinarily well. And it’s fun to watch, and it just blows my mind how talented people are. And what all goes into the production behind the scenes is really neat too; it sort of gives you a new appreciation for lights and tech and these kinds of productions.

SR: Why should everyone come see Julius Caesar?

Oh, because it’s a lot of fun; there’s funny moments and dramatic moments and overall it’s a good, interesting story, and the cast is great, fun to watch. And a lot of hard work went into it, and hopefully you can see that when you come see it.

SR: If you had to describe Julius Caesar in a word…?

It’s hard to describe in one word. I guess it’s an epic story maybe. You know, you don’t see a lot of this in our small production, but there’s huge battles and there’s conspiracies and there’s questions about who’s on whose side. So I would say probably epic.

Caesar Interview #3: Mark Antony

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Assistant Director Stephanie Ramsey sat down with each member of the cast to ask them about their characters and their experiences working on the show.

sallie's headshotToday’s interview is with the incomparable Sallie Willows, who plays the charismatic Mark Antony, among others!

SR: Tell me about your role in Julius Caesar

SW: Well, I play Mark Antony, who, I guess you could say is Julius Caesar’s right-hand man and one of his best friends. Mark Antony truly loved him. I also play Lucius, who is Brutus’s servant, and Artemidorus, who is – well he’s definitely a citizen of Rome who loves Caesar greatly.

SR: How did you get involved in Britches and Hose?

SW: I saw – I guess it was a thing on Facebook – it was for auditions for the “Scottish Play.” And I had actually auditioned for another company that was doing the “Scottish Play” at the same time, and I didn’t get the role I really wanted, so I decided to turn it down. And I auditioned for Britches and Hose for the “Scottish Play,” and I was offered the role of Hecate, the queen of witches, and I really liked the idea of doing that – and I also did the gentlewoman and Siward at the end. So that’s how I got started with it. I knew Dan [Clark, technical director] and Leandra [Lynn, managing director] from working with them, not just inside a Shakespeare troupe – so I knew them and was familiar with them and thought, “if they’re involved, I’d like to be involved with Britches and Hose.”

SR: How has it been working on this production?

SW: Great, great – I love them all. They’re really talented and it feels like it’s cohesive. It feels like it’s a really tight knit group, so it’s really nice.

SR: Why should everyone come see Julius Caesar?

SW: It’s a very interesting concept – very simple costuming. Sort of… as I’ve told friends, it’s a skeletal cast. You know, you’re not going to see Julius Caesar done with just eight actors, so it’s very interesting, very different. So I think they’d enjoy it, I think they’d find it’s a really interesting concept.

SR: If you had to describe Julius Caesar in a word…?

SW: I guess tragic… just tragic. It’s so sad. Although it’s also different – it’s strange that it’s called Julius Caesar although Julius Caesar dies pretty early in the play! But yeah; tragic.

Caesar Interview #2: Portia

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Assistant Director Stephanie Ramsey sat down with each member of the cast to ask them about their characters and their experiences working on the show.

allie headshotToday’s interview is with the lovely Allie Vignoli, whose several roles include Brutus’ wife Portia and Caesar’s wife Calphurnia.

SR: Tell me about your role in Julius Caesar

AV: I play Portia and Calphurnia and I am married to – well, they’re pretty exciting, I mean Brutus is very forthcoming and Caesar is just very stuck up. I play his wife who is very frightened, and I play Portia who is very “hear me roar,” so that’s pretty exciting, and I play a couple of smaller characters so it’s been a lot of fun so far.

SR: How did you get involved in Britches and Hose?

AV: Truth be told, I actually got involved with a different sort of thing with Leandra [our managing director] and we were coming out of that and she said “man, I have rehearsal,” and I said, “rehearsal for what?” and they were doing Macbeth and they needed a stage manager… So yeah, they invited me to stage manage it even though it was only two days that I had known them, so that was pretty awesome!

SR: How has it been working on this production?

AV: Really awesome. Everybody is super like… They want you to succeed. Yeah, this is my third production, second full production, and Portia and Calphurnia are pretty big parts for me, because I haven’t really done a lot with them [B&H] yet. So they’re really pushing for, you know, succeeding and being able to do bigger parts – so that’s awesome.

SR: Why should everyone come see Julius Caesar?

AV: Because we’re gender-blind, and I’ve never actually seen that before in any sort of other production. Usually all of the good parts are given to men, and in this we have Mark Antony, who’s played by Sallie [Willows], and we have Brutus who’s played by Relle [Seidman], and they’re both really, really great, so that’s why I think everybody should come see the show.

SR: If you had to describe Julius Caesar in a word…?

AV: Rome

Caesar Interview #1: Brutus

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Assistant Director Stephanie Ramsey sat down with each member of the cast to ask them about their characters and their experiences working on the show.

relle's headshotFirst up is the always-wonderful Relle Seidman, who plays the hero of our story!

SR: Tell me about your role in Julius Caesar RS: I am playing Marcus Junius Brutus, a man recruited by Cassius to kill Caesar and begin the revolution.

SR: How did you get involved in Britches and Hose?

RS: Well isn’t that a funny question!  I am the original founder of Britches and Hose which – I ‘m going to go ahead and give you a number here – I think it was 2010, and we started in my parents basement.  The first play we ever did was Antony and Cleopatra, which is interesting considering we are now doing Julius Caesar.  It was terrible, it was absolutely terrible – I mean the acting was good, but we had no props, we had no costumes, we had nothing, and we just had a really good time doing it.  And we had such a good time doing it that we decided to keep doing it for a much longer time.

SR: How has it been working on this production? RS: This group is great; I love these people.  These are fantastic actors – they’re very talented, they’re very inspiring.  I like working with a close-knit group of people.  To be fair, I have worked with all these people before, with the exception of your lovely self [the assistant director] and I adore them.  They are my theatre family.

SR: Why should everyone come see Julius Caesar?

RS: I’m sorry, I believe the appropriate question is why should you not come to see this production, because there are no reasons why you should not come see this production, and there are plenty of reasons why you should.  This is an ambitious production.  We’re doing some ambitious work here because we’re doing Julius Caesar, essentially in its entirety, with eight actors basically in rehearsal blacks.  We are focusing on performance.  We are focusing on character.  We are delving into the depths of the motivations, the conflicts behind these characters.  We are doing Julius Caesar in a way that forces you to look at what’s going on in the deeper parts of this play.  I think it’s a really interesting production, and, yeah, you should see it.