Bag&Baggage, in all of its productions, adds its own unique flavor to the story telling. We don’t stick with tradition, we use other influences from literature, the poetry of the text, and whatever changes will serve the story. Neat. Now what does that mean for an actor?
One of my favorite things about B&B’s approach to Shakespeare is the break with tradition. The first time I ever read Julius Ceasar, I said “ I want to play all of these characters, I know I could do it! Let me do it!” I wanted to plot, assassinate, and battle. Then I remembered they were all men, and more often than not, women don’t get a chance at those roles. So imagine my joy when Scott told me this would be an all female cast. I finally get to tell my perspective on the characters, regardless of gender. We aren’t women playing men, we instead are actors playing characters! For an actor, this approach, this freedom, creates an artistic environment where we can be free to make choices we wouldn’t get to make in a “traditional” production. As Octavius I get to throw my arms like a man, I get to swing my hips like a woman, and I get to be this young, smart, powerful person regardless of gender.
B&B’s use of additions and influences to the text also means a new, clear perspective for actors. We have more to connect with; fresh ideas and new words to play with. And in this adaptation of Julius Caesar, I understand and connect with Caesar in a way I never have before. Having the scene between Antony and Caesar discussing tyranny clarifies, for all my characters, who Caesar was and why people loved him or wanted to kill him (or both).
Now the one thing about B&B’s approach that is traditional is the attention paid to the text. We all work on scansion. We all work on imagery and juxtapositions. We tear apart the text and we throw down our Shakespeare chops. This allows me as an actor to do the best story telling I can. To lose the poetry of the text or forget the richness of it would be throwing the baby out with the bathwater. B&B’s non-traditional approach works because it is great story telling and you need the power of the text to do that.
Mix all these elements together: freedom to make unique choices totally our own, have clarification of character and ideas, and clear text technique, and you get a Bag&Baggage brew that makes a tall drink of compelling theater that I am glad I get to help make. Thank goodness I found a place where I get a chance to fulfill my dream of being in this show!
Resident Acting Company Member
Cast Member, Julius Caesar