From Zoe V. Speas, an actor with the American Shakespeare Center’s production of Julius Caesar showing this week at IWU…
We’re approaching the last few weeks of our Spring 2016 Dangerous Dreams Tour, and I can’t help but marvel at how our three shows and even the group itself has grown and developed along the way. It’s an unusual privilege for an actor to live in a set of roles for an entire year. Typically, you tackle a role in a contract for a few weeks of rehearsal and maybe a 4-8 week performance schedule to follow. I usually leave these kinds of contracts longing for another go at the characters I played, having thought of a new angle or layer that didn’t occur to me in rehearsal.
But when we embarked for our first leg of tour in fall 2015, I felt a different sense of unease about my time with these shows. I assumed that by the time we returned to Staunton, VA for Holiday Season, I would know everything there was to know about Katherine, Calphurnia, and Gwendolen Fairfax (to name a few of my characters). I fretted that my performances might grow stale or tired after so much repetition. Now, with only a few fistfuls of performances on the road remaining, I know that I was fretting for nothing. I can look at the upcoming Spring Season of these shows back home with eager anticipation. There’s always more to learn. Always. And what’s particularly exciting about working with this group of actors is that they understand the truth of that statement as well.
I love that there are problem moments for me in Calphurnia’s confrontation with her husband in Julius Caesar—things I haven’t figured out yet. There are nights when I leave stage filled with excitement (as I frantically change costumes at breakneck speeds to make my next entrance as Artemidorus) because I sensed that I hit on a new tenet of their relationship I never noticed before. And then there are nights that Calphurnia stomps out of her husband’s presence, as the blocking dictates, but with a little extra force because Zoe-the-Actor lost grip on her groundedness in the scene and couldn’t get it back.
So tonight, in Murray, Kentucky, I’ll have another shot at the scene for our performance of Caesar. And then another opportunity in the morning for a matinee. And when we arrive in Marion for a performance of Caesar, you better believe I’ll be chasing down the answers to even more questions that have popped up about Miss Cal since the last time I performed. This is what keeps our shows alive, and what, I believe, makes what we do especially exciting for each audience for which we have the pleasure of performing. You are witnessing a group of artists mid-search for truth in characters whose depths are unfathomable. Oh, and stunning costumes and sword fights and kick-butt music. That stuff’s pretty sweet as well.