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You Asked, We Answered: Julius Caesar

The Cast of "Julius Caesar". © Photo by Craig Schwartz 2015

By A Noise Within
April 27, 2015

After each performance at ANW, patrons are asked to fill out a post-show survey. Here are some answers to a few popular questions.

Are there unique challenges to preparing a text with so many familiar lines and phrases?

Patrick O’Connell (Julius Caesar): A famous line is like a great song everyone knows. We all want to hear it done well. It’s a privilege to say these words that have become such a part of our language. It’s a structure you can depend on. People can settle back and not struggle for comprehension. They can just listen to the music. You don’t want to butcher those famous lines of course; no one wants to hear them done badly, but as long as you say them clearly and with proper intent, they speak for themselves. In my case, Caesar the man is very well known, in no small part as a result of this play. He really existed, he really was assassinated, and there really are likenesses of him in sculpture and painting. When I was cast I was quite pleased that I bore some resemblance to him. As the production developed however, I realized that it didn’t matter what I looked like or whether there was any resemblance, because we’re doing this play, and not some historical re-creation. I could be any race or any gender. The play is given life through the actors in it, and as long as the human emotions and actions are portrayed compellingly, all is well.

Rafael Goldstein (Mark Antony): At A Noise Within, we get to do the greatest plays ever written. They’ve survived for hundreds of years and have been performed by the best actors of every generation. By the time they reach us, they’ve been done in every way you can imagine. All an actor can do when presented with a “To be or not to be” or a “But soft, what light through yonder window breaks” is make it your own. Tailor the speech for yourself and your audience. Breathe and be as clear as you can. If you listen to your instincts, pay attention to the audience, and reinvest those fabulous words with your truth, you may get close to showing them something they’ve never seen before.

I really loved your interpretation of Cassius. What was your approach to adding layers to this character?

Freddy Douglas (Cassius): I am of the opinion that everyone is in some way conflicted, particularly in this play. The more alive and aware we are of our choices, the more conflicted. Even Julius Caesar after learning of his wife’s dream is conflicted. Cassius knows that there are larger issues at stake with the behavior and power grab of Caesar. He is just trying to do the right thing. Is he acting out of selfishness or for the greater good? I’m not sure if he knows himself but the consequences are life threatening so he must be conflicted as to whether to take action or not.

What influenced the decision to develop a modern industrial setting for the play rather than an ancient Roman one?

Julia Rodriguez-Elliott (Co-Director): First, thank you for noticing! It’s always heartening when the sets, which are an integral part of the play’s presentation, are called out. There are actually two reasons for the industrial setting. The first is that we wanted to reinforce the very topical nature of the play; while the play is clearly set in Roman times, the themes in Julius Caesar certainly transcend any one culture, and it’s remarkable how relevant they are to the world today. Second, we needed to find a design look that would allow us to flow seamlessly from The Threepenny Opera to Julius Caesar; that’s the main premise of the REVOLUTIONRep concept, in which two plays would be presented on one stage, directed by one pair of directors, with one set of designers and many shared actors at work. I think Frederica Nascimento did a phenomenal job with the sets, just as Angela Calin did with the costume design. If you’d like to know even more about how we developed this concept–and how the changeover actually works!–please join us for the final day of REVOLUTIONRep on May 2. The first two sessions were wonderful events, and Geoff and I love being able to meet you all in such an intimate and engaging way. (Note: For tickets, please call the Box Office at 626.356.3121 or email

Due to popular demand, Julius Caesar has been extended until May 24th! Click here for tickets.

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