Jonathan Strayer co-founded Ghostlight with his wife, Rachel. Since then he has directed four productions, performed in six, and has built sets for every show. This year he tackles the role of Shakespeare's most honorable villain, Brutus.
How are you associated with Ghostlight? How did you get involved and what other shows have you been in?
I am, along with my wife Rachel, one of the founders of Ghostlight Productions and currently act as the producing artistic director. For Ghostlight, I have directed, Twelfth Night, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Much Ado About Nothing, Macbeth, and co-directed or assisted with A Midnight Dreary, Metamorphoses, and Almost Maine. I have been on stage for Twelfth Night, Romeo and Juliet, Merry Wives of Windsor, A Midnight Dreary, and The Comedy of Errors. I have also served on the production staff for every show we've done.
What other theatre have you been and are you involved in?
I have worked on over 60 productions regionally, academically, and professionally, both on stage and back stage. I am a theatre professor as well as the resident designer and technical director for theatre at Summit University. I also, very recently, directed the east coast premiere of DROWNING OPHELIA for the Gaslight Theatre Company (not to be confused with Ghostlight).
What has been a favorite part of this production so far?
I really enjoy the people I get to work with. So many talented local artists are involved in this show and it’s a great privilege to be share the stage with many of them, as well as work with them behind the scenes.
Who is your character and what is he like?
I am playing Brutus, a character that I never really connected with until this production. Truth be told, I wasn't looking to play Brutus; I kind of wanted a different role but the person playing that role knocked it out of the park in auditions, so I knew I didn't have a shot. It is really great to explore something new and unexpected. I have found Brutus to be more complex than I ever gave him credit for: he has tight connections with many other characters on stage, including those towards whom he is violent.
How does your character feel about Caesar? Do you want her dead? Why did you kill her?
Brutus loves Caesar. Not as a lover, but as one with a near familial connection. Brutus doesn't want her dead, but his love of Rome and loyalty to the idea of what Rome could and should be demands drastic action. Caesar is in the middle of that. Caesar becomes the hurdle to that.
What is your character’s motivation in the ensuing civil war? What is their goal or desire for the government?
Brutus has no motivation in the "ensuing civil war" except to try to prevent it. If that isn't possible, then he will do what must be done for the good of Rome. Brutus wants Rome to be given back to the people, something Casesar was not too keen on.