Could you tell us about the characters you are each portraying and describe your specific perception of them?
Carlos Williams (Pompey): Pompey is a power-hungry leader who has a very strong sense of honour, which doesn’t necessarily turn out too well for him.
Cassius Davids (Octavius Caesar): I think Caesar’s very ambitious, also set in his ways, very conniving, very smart.
Megan van Wyk (Iras and Octavia): Iras is a waiting woman for Cleopatra and she is quite all over the place, and ditzy and loyal. Octavia is the sister to Caesar, and she is self-serving, but also loyal to Caesar.
Kevin Koopman (Alexas, Varrius, Scarus, and Diomedes): I think I’ll speak about Alexas. Alexas is very materialistic. He is proud, but, more than anything, he is infatuated with Cleopatra.
Campbell Meas (Charmian and Agrippa): Charmian, one of Cleopatra’s ladies in waiting, is loyal; she is witty; she’s chacharag. And then Agrippa is one of Caesar’s soldiers, and I think he is very loyal to Caesar, and he enjoys violence and chaos.
Sibusiso Mkhize (Enobarbus and Mardian): Enobarbus is a very loyal friend to Antony. He’s a thinker, and he’s a very easy and malleable character. He shifts very nicely between the Egyptian setup and the Roman lifestyle.
Neo Sibiya (Eros and Lepidus): Lepidus is part of the Triumvirate with Antony and Caesar, but I think he’s the weakest link in the Triumvirate. He is probably an alcoholic. He is very easy-going; he is laid-back; he is a peace-maker and he just wants everyone to be happy. Conflict and tension make him a bit nervous.
Sanelisiwe Yekani (Cleopatra, Queen of Egypt): I think that Cleopatra is the epitome of a queen or a strong woman who finds herself truly in love; and we then get to witness her journey of, I suppose, opposites, where she tries to balance her power and her love.
Ben Kgosimore (Mark Antony): Mark Antony is passionate. He is also quite strong, which is something that has worked for him in the past, but I think that at this point of his life, the strength that led to his becoming a general does not really count anymore. I think he is quite playful, playful in that in the 21st century, he could even be categorised as a player. He leads with his heart, and sometimes that’s good for him, and sometimes that’s bad for him.
Have there been challenges or surprises in interpreting your character?
Sibusiso (Enobarbus and Mardian): I noticed with Enobarbus that you really need to get the imagery and sense of what he is talking about, because he speaks in prose. So you need to understand what you say, because at first it’s just a bunch of words that make no sense really. So, personally, to me as an actor, it was challenging to make meaning and sense of the words, but it really pushed me to work hard, because Enobarbus is the one who relays the story.
Ben (Antony): I think my first introduction to Mark Antony was in Julius Caesar with his “Friends, Romans, Countrymen” … and there’s a strange relationship that Shakespeare has with the actual historical facts and with what he finally presents in the work. I understood Mark Antony to be a Roman General … If you think ‘Roman General’, you think, this must be a tough man, but, starting from Julius Caesar, he became a leader because he was able to reach soldiers here (pats chest). He was able to convince them and to get them to put their souls on the line by appealing to their hearts. That’s how he became a general, and, I suppose, that is my impression of him now.
Sanelisiwe (Cleopatra): It was interesting, because you hear about Cleopatra as this strong character, this woman who was the fall of a great soldier, but, after reading the work, and learning from our sessions, and talking about her more, and trying to understand her lines and the things she says … my interpretation of her is that she is actually one of the weakest people in the play, and the reason I say this is because I feel that in her commands, in her decisions, in her there is a panicking happening, and being a woman, especially back in those days, power doesn’t belong to you, you know. That is how it’s sold. So, you have to keep it, to try keep it, and then suddenly you are falling in love, and losing control … she is panicking. She is trying to not to lose. She might have power, according to other people, but she doesn’t feel at peace with that power. So, I don’t think she is the strongest character in the play, although it may appear that way.