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.