What were some of your favorite moments that your actors did during Julius Caesar?
Golly. Great question. Part of the problem here is that some of my favorite choices are things that my co-director and I directed them to do… ya see? But just a few things that stand out to me:
Our Cassius was kind of a ‘big’ character, lots of big gestures and loud voice, but some of the subtle things that she did were so moving. Like, she said “Goodnight, my lord” to Brutus and started to walk away, and Brutus said, “Goodnight… good brother,” and Cassius turned around and sort of scrunched-up her shoulders and tucked her hair out of her face and half smiled and exited and it was super cute.
I was so PROUD of our Casca for developing a great character (I’ve worked with him since he was a young teen). He was really funny and snarky in the beginning of the show, but we altered the script a little so that Casca did everything that Titinius was written to do in the original play, and it created this really strong, interesting friendship with Cassius. Throughout the play, Casca and Brutus distrusted each other but both were pals with Cassius, in different ways. After finding the dead body of Cassius, right before committing suicide, Casca said one of the most devastating lines: “Brutus! Come apace, and see how *I* regarded Caius Cassius.” Like, he made it sound like a dig at Brutus– “Look how much Cassius meant to me! You would never make a sacrifice like this for her.” It was a really powerful scene and made him so much more than sassy comic relief.
Our Calpurnia’s 500% done facial expressions during Decius’ whole spiel with Caesar were hilarious, coupled with the fact that there was a pause before ‘how foolish do your fears seem now, Calpurnia?’ when Decius looked super terrified, and then Caesar burst out laughing, so he did, too.
Our actress who played Julius Caesar appeared as the mysterious soldier who helps Brutus commit suicide. There was a weird moment of recognition between the two right before the moment of death, and Brutus said the line, “Caesar, now be still/ I killed not thee with half so good a will” to her as she was dying. The actress who had played Caesar tenderly folded Brutus’ arms and closed her eyes and was genuinely crying when Octavius’ army arrived.
Our Brutus was super great at keeping Brutus’ anxiety and inner turmoil restrained whenever she was around other people- just little touches like not letting Messala help her up after she’s speaking over Cassius’ body or what have you– but letting the audience see how much she’s going through when she’s alone. It was actually kind of exhausting to watch her because her emotions went through so much. There is this moment where she says, “No man bears sorrow better–” then half-looks at Cassius and barely manages to squeeze out the words, “Portia is dead.” Cassius says, “Huh? Portia?” and Brutus just breaks down crying and covers her face in her hands and manages to say through her sobs, “She is dead!” And it’s super intense because you never see Brutus lose it like that.
Inspired by the Donmar Warehouse production, I added in a little ‘dream sequence’ with Brutus and Portia after that scene, right before the ghost of Caesar appears. They danced together to a cover of “Born to Die” that our Portia, who is an audio engineer and a very talented musician, created for the show, and both of their faces were so heartbreaking. I really loved the scenes with them.
There was so much more, but that’s the first thing that comes to mind.
Mac: what do you think Rosie would be like when she’s about 13 or 14?
Endlessly curious. Gets distracted during homework; ends up three hours deep into records of historic nuclear facility meltdowns before she remembers what she’s supposed to be doing. Can bullshit her way through an assignment in thirty minutes, but if she’s interested in the topic she’ll take three days and learn more about the subject than her teacher knew. After a hard day will disappear into the Park and listen to music lying on a bench somewhere staring up into the trees until she’s ready to talk to people again. (Both Sherlock and John are tempted to keep her at home forever and never let her go anywhere, but they’re making a conscious effort to make sure she’s actually able to handle herself, so they taught her the Underground system when she was twelve and she can go off as long as she texts them. She also owns a knife they gave her at ten.) Does deep-breathing techniques when she’s anxious (John taught her that, off Ella’s suggestion) and makes tea (all three of them believe deeply in tea). Reads Shakespeare for fun and will start a scene-off with Sherlock without warning–Hamlet especially, but also Julius Caesar. (She likes to make Sherlock be Caesar. Or the ghost. Brutus is her dream role.) Has cut all her hair off twice. Has only three friends; trusts all of them with her life. Snarky, but not cruel. She pesters Sherlock and John for stories about the places they’ve traveled constantly; likes to give them near-strokes during dinner by saying casually that she’s going to be an archeologist in Peru/special ops in the Gulf/Peace Corps doctor in Sudan. (She might. Sometimes she wants to, other times she’d like to be a vet.) She falls asleep in front of the fireplace with her head on the dog once in a while, like she has since she was little, and they always wake her up around nine and walk her upstairs; but once in her room she lies awake writing stories in her head and listening to the sounds of her dads murmuring and laughing down below.
What facts about Cassius did shakespeare get wrong?
Basically none of them!
Except one detail: the manner of Cassius’s death. Plutarch gives two contradictory descriptions: in Plut. Brut. 43 (”his head was found severed from his body”) and in Plut. Caes. 69 (”after his defeat at Philippi he slew himself with that very dagger which he had used against Caesar”). The Life of Brutus deserves significantly more trust in this matter: it describes the battle of Philippi and the episode that led to Cassius’s death in detail; while in the Life of Caesar there is only this sentence about Cassius’s death, and it is placed in the context of “amazing episodes of Caesar’s post-mortal revenge” - aka ghost stories.
But as you see, Shakespeare is blameless here: he had full right to take any of the two descriptions by one author (and, I think, took the one that’s easier to stage).
That Cassius could be in Spain together with Caesar is, as I wrote, canon-compliant (by canon I mean history). [Personally I have another canon-compliant variant of Cassius’s timeline, where Spain does not feature, but that’s a different question.]
A lyric digression about “seldom he smiles” (I think this ask is connected to my earlier mention of this line). I mean (perhaps a very trivial thing, which I, however, have seen people forgetting) that it’s not Shakespeare’s characteristic of Cassius, but Caesar’s. Rather than “seldom he smiles at all” [which contradicts “prone to laughter” etc. in Plutarch - and yes, he laughs at cynic’s rhymes in JC; contradicts also Cicero’s letters…], it is “seldom he smiles around Caesar” (or even narrower: to Caesar). Because it’s all Caesar knows.