Sav Amendola, a Pennsylvania native, plays the dual roles of Calpurnius (Caesar’s husband) and Octavius (their son). He took some time out of his busy schedule- usually spent working at his family’s truly “Deli-cious” Scranton deli and coaching high school sports- to describe both of his characters and the roles they play in the unfolding drama of Caesar’s demise.
Tell us about yourself!
I grew up in Philly but have lived in the Scranton area long enough to call it home. I like to hang from trees and rock-climb. I am interested in the origins of the universe, CMB, and making music. I coach Track for Holy Cross High School and I do math problems in remote locations of libraries late friday nights. I am an expert cannoli-filler at Amendola Deli-cious (999 Providence Rd. Scranton).
What theater have you been involved in outside of Ghostlight?
I have done theater off-and-on since high-school and college with groups such as Actors Circle at Providence Playhouse. My favorite roles were playing Jesus in "The Passion According to The Gospel of St. John", Joe Pendleton in "Heaven Can Wait", and Max Halliday in "Dial M For Murder."
What is Calpurnius’ view and thoughts on Caesar both as his wife and as the country’s leader-to-be?
Calpurnius loves his wife Caesar, but she drives him crazy at times because of her head-strong ways and brushes with danger. He is proud and always supportive of his wife and her talents for leadership. He believes that she would be a great leader of Rome and would do a lot to bring about stability to the prevailing tumult. He is very protective of his wife and worries frequently for her safety, especially of late, given the inherent dangers of being a Roman military leader.
What is the dynamic like between Calpurnius and Caesar? Describe their relationship.
Calpurnius and Caesar love each other, but Caesar's ambition and confidence causes tension at times. Caesar respects her husband, who was successful in his own right, and can be swayed by Calpurnius's counsel, but his influence over his wife is limited by Caesar's strongheaded ambition as well as the counsel of her close military advisers.
What were your initial thoughts or impressions on the gender reversal of Caesar’s and Calpurnius’ roles? Have those impressions changed?
My initial impression was "say, what?" I thought it the work of the Devil to mess with the work and original intent of genius-man Billy Shakespeare. I was going to turn it down because it seemed strange to play a role traditionally played as Calpurnia the wife of male-leader Caesar. But I trusted Rachel and said “what the hey!” I see the role of Calpurnius simply as the role of a supportive husband to a very successful wife.
How does Octavius fit into the triumvirate?
Octavius, the adopted son of Caesar and Calpurnius, is a young man, immensely intelligent and a prodigy in the military arts. He was schooled in all the best academies since youth and has grown-up thinking himself a leader and one day perhaps one of the leaders of the Roman Empire. He recently comes from the military exploits of the western part of the Empire with Lepidus his friend and close ally. He will share leadership after Caesar's tragic fall with Lepidus. Besides Lepidus, Marc Antony, the older, esteemed general, will share the 'tri-fold' power with them, although Octavius has his misgivings about Antony.
What are Octavius’ views on Caesar and all that has happened?
Octavius is outraged over the death of his parents. He loved Caesar his mother. Rome must be purged of treason. He is blood-thirsty and will stop at nothing to avenge their deaths.
Our Soothsayers were next on our list to interview - but they decided to do things a little bit differently!
Grace Doolittle is this year’s theater intern for the Ghostlight Production family, and still newly acquainted with the world of theater as a whole. Today we get to hear about her background, what it’s like to work with Ghostlight, and her thoughts on her characters in the play.
Tell us a bit about yourself: where are you from? How did you get involved in theater?
That’s kind of a complicated question because I’ve lived in a number of places, especially the past several years. I was born and raised on the central coast of California, but my family moved to Boise Idaho when I was teenager. Since then I’ve also spent time in Manhattan and Wisconsin and now Pennsylvania. I’m a bit of a wanderer, but I still call Santa Cruz California home.
I actually didn’t truly get involved in theatre until my freshman year of university, and it certainly wasn’t my intent. I started out as a vocal music major, but I happened to walk past the campus theatre during their auditions for the semester production and on a whim stopped in and tried out. I got a part, fell in love with the world of theatre, switched my major, and haven’t looked back.
How did you get involved in Ghostlight? What has the experience been like?
My last university closed at the end of my junior year, so I transferred up to Summit University to finish out and got connected with the Strayers through the university’s theatre programme. It’s been a great experience from day one. It’s also been more than a little crazy- trying to juggle both this and finals was overwhelming at times- but a great learning opportunity, and a joy to be a part of. I’ve never done outdoor theatre or Shakespeare, although I’ve always enjoyed both, and my appreciation has only deepened as I’ve become acquainted with all it takes to pull off an open-air show in middle-English prose for a wide audience of very mixed backgrounds. The Strayers love what they do and that makes it even better.
When you’re not doing theatre, how do you like to spend your time?
I tend to keep pretty busy and the bulk of my free time goes to either books or music (usually with a cup of tea on hand). Linguistics has become a hobby of mine, and I tend to spend the summers working on language-learning. I’ve also recently developed a list of films to see that I’m currently trying to work through.
Who are you playing? Describe your characters?
I am playing Portia- the wife of Brutus- and Lepidus, a general and one of the members of the new triumvirate. Portia is a politician’s wife, but she is also a very involved person. She cares about community affairs and foreign relations, and is a pretty headstrong, independent thinker, but also deeply compassionate. She and Brutus have a very close and trusting relationship, and that’s why his secretive and closed behavior is so odd and troublesome to her. It’s clear in the play that Brutus is not used to withholding information from her, even though he tends to be a very private person.
Lepidus is probably the exact opposite. She’s risen quickly in the ranks due to her battle tactics and expertise, and is all hot-headed angst and thirst for power and blood. She likes being a soldier, but she’s trying desperately to prove herself to Antony and Octavius because she senses that she’s the odd-man out.
How does your characters feel about Caesar?
I think Portia is okay with Caesar- she knows that Caesar granted Brutus a pardon and has since made Brutus one of her closest friends and Portia appreciates that. She certainly doesn’t think Caesar deserves to be assassinated.
Lepidus doesn’t choose sides for people so much as align herself with power. She fought under Caesar in the last civil war and was promoted for her work, so she too appreciates Caesar. But if Caesar’s death is going to mean Lepidus’ success or promotion, then she’d happily join the conspirators and use a blade herself.
What will people be thinking about on the way home after the show?
I think they’ll probably find themselves reflecting on the fickleness of both politics and humanity, and likely making parallels between the politics of Rome, of Shakespeare’s retelling, and of our present day. I really hope they spend time discussing the character’s motives and personal sense of honour. The amount of development each character gets is phenomenal, and each one has a distinct and personal motive for everything they do.