One of the greatest joys of working in theater is watching it bring people together. This is especially true of Luke and Cecilia Sayre, faithful veterans of Ghostlight’s Shakespeare productions and participants in other local community theaters. Their credits include roles at the Dietrich Theater in Tunkhannock, Summit University, and the Wyoming County Players. Julius Caesar will be Cecilia’s third show with Ghostlight, and Luke’s sixth. This year, the couple are taking on the roles of Metellus (Luke) and Cinna (Cecilia): two conspirators in the plot against Caesar. Today, Cecilia tells us a little more about how they met, and the two explain why their characters want Caesar dead.
I understand that you two met through Ghostlight! Tell me how that happened.
Well, Luke had done shows with everyone previously, and I had wanted to audition for a couple of years. It was funny because they did consider using us for the characters Romeo and Juliet, even though I don't think we actually read opposite each other. We were there at the same time, but we weren't aware of each other at all...until the first read-through. Luke swears that when I walked in that night, time stood still for him and he just knew God was telling him he would marry me. The rest is kind of history! I remember he would stare at me during rehearsal (thinking he was being super nonchalant about it), and I kept trying to catch him in the act, so that I could just say 'Hi' thinking he might stop staring at me if I did.
Finally our director started pairing people off for the party scene, and put us together. Luke was looking anywhere but at me, even though we were supposed to be dancing together....so I grabbed his chin and said 'Focus!' It was supposed to just be a joke of course, but I didn't realize how funny and ironic it would be that such a thing would really be the first time I ever spoke to him in the long run!
Do you generally do theater together or do you get involved individually as well?
Since we met, I don't think we have done a show without each other. We love that this is a joint interest for us, and use it as a way to grow together. That doesn't mean we wouldn't do a production solo, but it just hasn't happened yet. We go to auditions together, and it has just happened so far that we have both always been offered roles.
What kind of theater do you prefer?
I have a soft spot for musicals whereas Luke has always been a sucker for the more dramatic pieces (murder mysteries and the like).
Describe who you are playing and how they feel about Caesar.
Cecilia: Cinna is a career politician, who actually pays attention to the cues around her. She notices when the little lines start getting crossed by the others in politics, and she finds that kind of behavior disturbing. She loves what Rome is to be, and knows that if the little lines get crossed, it puts the government onto the fast track of becoming a dictatorship. I see the type of power-hungry attitude in Caesar that leads down a road I do not desire for Rome, and I am afraid that the government's proper function can't stay intact with her sitting 'at the head of the table'. I don't like the idea of killing... In fact I don't really even know how to use a weapon. I have always lived a politicians life. I do, however, think something must be done for the good of Rome, and while I don't want to kill, I do want to save the people I care about.
Luke: Metellus is a career soldier. He doesn’t much care for politics and would rather keep clear of it. Like many in the military Metellus has bled and lost friends for the sake of Rome; with this perspective in mind he will do whatever it takes to preserve his country. Metellus has had numerous dealings with Ceasar in the past, and has even used Ceasar’s influence to gain higher position in the military. As a result, Metellus has very little respect for Ceasar and sees her as inconsistent and easily influenced. It isn’t hard to imagine Metellus killing Ceasar for the sake of Rome, after all no one wants to see a puppet take command, not unless they are on the other side of the strings.
What kind of person will love this show?
Cecilia: I think almost anyone could love this show! I think the political nuances and themes are enough to keep people interested in the story-line, but on the other side of that coin, there is enough action to keep your eyes focused, even when no one is talking.
Luke: I think this show could be enjoyable for anyone who is prepared to sit down and think. Julius Ceasar is not a production for the faint of heart. The parallels that can be drawn between Rome and present day are thought provoking to say the least.
As we begin rehearsals for this season’s production of Julius Caesar, we pulled aside our very own resident Caesar for a brief interview. Sarah Landstrom, a local actress and creative force, is a very welcome new addition to the Ghostlight family. Today she gives us some insight into both her background, and her character.
1. Tell me a little about Caesar.
She thrives on being the center of attention, and she's a natural leader. She's also stubborn and arrogant. But her pride is deserved- she's carved out a solid space for herself in a male-dominated field.
2. How do you view the character?
Caesar really is doing her best leading Rome (or at least she thinks she's doing her best). In her mind, it's not just about ambition; she truly thinks she is the best person for the job.
3. What are you looking forward to exploring about the character?
I'm interested in her relationships with the other characters. It's interesting that even though Caesar seems well-liked by the public, in reality, she has very few friends actually on her side.
4. Do you foresee any challenges to portraying Caesar as a woman?
I love that Ghostlight was open to swapping genders! Shakespeare is the perfect medium to play with some gender fluidity- women's roles were played by men in his time, so why not do it the other way around now?
In particular, this is a very interesting time in this country to be playing a female political leader. I think audiences will be receptive to a female Caesar. However, my hope is that after the first few minutes, the novelty of Caesar the woman will wear off, and they will be left with Caesar the person. Everyone knows the story of Caesar, so I think it will really help that we're shaking up their expectations a little bit.
5. How did you first hear about Ghostlight?
I had been trying to find out about auditions for Shakespeare in the Park for a couple years, actually! I'm notoriously bad at hearing about auditions in time. I finally got lucky when some of my friends shared the event page on Facebook.
6. Why did you want to be involved in this show?
I love Shakespeare, and I really like the idea of playing it in the park. It makes it more accessible, which is great because a lot of people have this misconception that Shakespeare is boring and confusing. But that's not true! If we've done our job as actors, audiences will understand every word, and it will be exciting.
7. Was there a particular part you wanted?
If I wasn't Caesar, my next choice would be Cassius. I think it's super rad that Cassius is also a woman in our production!
8. What’s the biggest challenge about taking on this role?
After last weekend, I have to say the stage fighting will be the most challenging part. It's SO much fun, but since Caesar is a skilled fighter, I need to work that much harder to meet her level.
9. Are you involved in any other theatres in the area?
I'll be playing Aunt Abby in Arsenic and Old Lace at the Dietrich theatre next weekend! I've also performed with Diva Theatre, the Shawnee Playhouse, and the Little Theatre of Wilkes-barre.
10. Tell me about your past theatrical work—how did you get started? What have you done? Do you have a part you particularly loved playing?
I first got involved in theatre in high school because I was a singer (I still am!). Musical theatre will always be my favorite, but for some reason, I've done more plays than musicals. I studied acting at the American Academy of Dramatic Arts. It's hard to pick a favorite role...I really enjoyed playing Helena in A Midsummer Nights Dream.
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Things are really picking up with Ghostlight's summer season, and we have a few announcements to make!
First off, we would like to introduce you to our summer intern for 2016: Grace Doolittle! She is a current student at Summit University, and will be completing her undergraduate degree in communications this summer. To learn more on Grace, Click Here for a link to her bio (and the rest of the Ghostlight team!)
Shakespeare in the Park: Friends, Romans, Countryman... We have a cast! We are very excited to be working with our cast for this year's Shakespeare in the Park: Julius Caesar. Cast members include Sarah Landstrom as Caesar, Jonathan Strayer as Brutus, Laura Miceli as Cassius, and Jeremy J. Kemmerer as Mark Antony. For full cast list, Click Here. We have had our first read-through with the full cast, and we will begin rehearsals this coming Tuesday. We can't wait to get started!
Underage Theatre: We are proud to announce our show for this season of Underage Theatre will be Twain by the Tale, directed by Jill and Jeremy Kemmerer! This comedy is a series of sketches and monologues adapted from the works of Mark Twain. Performances will be held at the Abington Community Library, auditions and performance dates will soon be announced.
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