Actor Josh Rice portrays Octavian Caesar in PAE’s Antony and Cleopatra
Welcome back, everyone, to the Portland Actor Ensemble blog! It’s been a delightful journey preparing and then sharing with you interviews from the cast and crew of PAE’s Antony and Cleopatra, as part of our Cleo Chat series of posts.
Today we feature actor Josh Rice, who takes on the role of Octavian Caesar in PAE’s 2014 Twilight Tragedie. Josh shares this role with Sam Levi, who portrays Caesar in alternating performances. In this interview, we discussed Josh’s preparation for his role as well as his experiences during the rehearsal process and more!
(Athena McElrath–AM) How did you prepare for your role, Josh?
(Josh Rice–JR) I play Octavian Caesar in this play. Politics are at the core of the story that we are telling, of two rulers who dared to love each other, and the fallout that their choices created, both in their own nations, and the greater western world of that time. So, it was necessary for me to have an understanding of the gravity of what that choice meant, not only to Caesar, but also within the entire scope of the play. I read Suetonius’s Twelve Caesars, as well as Colleen McCullough’s Masters of Rome series (which is a fictional interpretation of Rome’s transition from Republic to Empire) to gain perspective on what it meant to live in this high-class ancient world. Additionally, I watched the HBO series Rome, and the BBC series I, Claudius. Both are incredibly detailed, and portray the politics of the time beautifully. What I gained from this research was the ability to sink into the given circumstances of the play without question, and understand the subtext of the power structures at play. It is my hope that this knowledge will only add clarity to my character choices, as well as clarity for our audience with the story that we are telling.
(AM) What is your favorite moment in the play and why?
(JR) My favorite moment is in Act 5 (in our interpretation of the play, the last part of Act 2), where Caesar is brought the news that Antony has taken his own life. The full impact and the gravity of this news hits him, and the language that he uses is so beautiful, and so heartfelt, it makes it easy to connect with every time I go over it. More than that, it paints a beautifully moving picture for the audience in regards to Caesar’s respect and love for Antony, even though they are enemies.
(AM) What was your favorite experience working on this show?
(JR) I was double cast in the role of Caesar because of another project that I was working on, and it has been an enlightening experience working, in tandem, with another actor. Their interpretation will always be different (in some way) from your own, and that is an incredible resource to tap into. You immediately challenge each other to think about the character in different ways and each moment from different angles, because you both bring your own perspective to the table. In this way, I think Caesar has taken on new growth and life in both Sam Levi’s interpretation of him, and my own.
Thanks so much, Josh, for your insights into this production!
More Antony and Cleopatra Cleo Chat interviews coming up soon!
You can find our show schedule for Portland Actors Ensemble’s Antony and Cleopatra here–please join us and see this free production that runs June 19th through July 26th.
Have any questions about Antony and Cleopatra? We’d love to hear about it down in the comments, so feel free to stop by and say hi!
Till next time,
Take pains; be perfect; adieu!Athena McElrath is an actor and singer who is also an Administrative Board member with Portland Actor’s Ensemble. She helps PAE with social media and educational outreach. She often works onstage with her husband, K.J. McElrath, in their cabaret act, called McElrath Cabaret, which features songs from classic Broadway, Hollywood and Tin Pan Alley. For more: http://mcelrathcabaret.com/