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 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.