In Part 4 of a series of interviews with the director and cast of Prince William Little Theatre’s production of Julius Caesar – set in the Soviet Union during the August Coup of 1991 – meet AnuRa Harrison.
Joel: Please introduce yourself and tell our readers where they may have seen you perform on our local stages. What shows and roles you have played?
My name is AnuRa Harrison and this is my first production with the Prince William Little Theatre. In July 2015, I made my theatrical debut as Amy in the Clifton Arts Council’s The Meeting.
Have you performed in a Shakespearean production before and/or Julius Caesar before? If yes, where and who did you play?
This is my first Shakespearean production.
Who do you play in this production and how do you relate and not relate to your character?
I play Calphurnia, Caesar’s wife. I relate to Calphurnia in that I love my husband dearly, and, if given the chance, I’d do whatever is necessary to keep him safe. I do not relate to my character in that, unlike Calphurnia, I don’t give much weight to the meaning of dreams.
What is the play about from the point of view of your character?
From Calphurnia’s point of view, this play is about convincing Caesar that something earth-shattering is going to occur. She doesn’t have solid proof, just a gut feeling, and she knows that Caesar is not one to make decisions based on womanly intuition. And though she’s not one to “stand on ceremonies” herself, Calphurnia cannot ignore the totality of the bad omens (her dream, the things reported by the watch). She must make Caesar listen to her!
How did you prepare for your role?
After reading the play, I went to the local library and rented some documentaries on Shakespeare and Julius Caesar. As this reimagining of the play is set before the dissolution of the Soviet Union, I made sure to research that era and the Russian people. My character is of Afro-Cuban descent, so I checked out some books on communism and Cuba. Finally, Mary-Anne has been helpful in that she provided online links and printed literature for the cast so that we could better understand the 1991 Soviet coup.
What lines and scene were the most difficult for you to perform and memorize and why?
I had little difficulty memorizing my lines (I have few lines when compared to characters like Cassius and Brutus). I do, however, find Caesar’s funeral scene to be difficult because it is so emotionally taxing. Going to that dark and sad place to pull up those tears and feelings of loss every rehearsal is exhausting (but so worth it).
What does Julius Caesar have to say to modern audiences? What recent events parallel the events that occur in this play?
I recently watched an incredible series on Netflix about the Columbian drug lord Pablo Escobar. Like Caesar, Escobar was once considered a man of the people. He was powerful, wealthy and ambitious. Though the parallels may end there, their stories remind me that man’s greed, his need to have it all in order to be content, is his ultimate downfall.
How did your director help you to shape your performance and what were some of the challenges you faced and how did the director solve them for you?
Mary-Anne helped me shape my performance by clearly articulating her vision of Calphurnia, while allowing me the wiggle room to make different choices within a scene. I appreciate her flexible approach to directing, as it allowed me the opportunity to truly flesh out and connect with the character.
What’s next for you on the stage?
I’d like to conquer my fear of singing and perform in a musical!
Julius Caesar plays through this Sunday, October 25, 2015 at Prince William Little Theatre performing at the Gregory Family Theater at the Hylton Performing Arts Center on the George Mason University Campus – 10960 George Mason Circle, in Manassas, VA. For tickets, purchase them online, or at the box office.
Meet The Director and Cast of PWLT’s ‘Julius Caesar’: Part 1: Director Mary-Anne Sullivan.
Meet The Director and Cast of PWLT’s ‘Julius Caesar,’: Part 2: Scott Olson, Matthew Scarborough, and Jay Tilley.
Meet The Director and Cast of PWLT’s Julius Caesar: Part 3: Haliya Roberts.
Meet The Director and Cast of PWLT’s Julius Caesar, Part 4: AnuRa Harrison.