Julius Caesar Act 1 Scene 2 | Text Detectives Key Scene | Royal Shakespeare Company


So, Act 1 Scene 2 of Julius Caesar – what’s
happening in this scene? Well, we’ve all just come on with Caesar as
a huge entourage in the middle of a festival. A soothsayer has just told him to ‘beware
the ides of March’. Caesar’s dismissed him and they’ve moved on to go and watch a big
race which involves Antony and other runners. Cassius and Brutus are left alone on stage. It’s not a pre-arranged meeting? I don’t think so. Cassius has had some thoughts;
the situation is getting worse with Caesar, he’s taking over more and more, he’s punching
well above his weight in terms of what he should be as an Emporer. And what about Brutus? Well I think what’s interesting about this
scene is there’s lots of different ways you could approach it. I think you learn quite
quickly that he’s obviously preoccupied with something, something’s on his mind and he
hasn’t quite been himself; he’s been quite distant. To me, it’s always been clear that
he’s been preoccupied about the way Caesar’s acting. Caesar’s taking too much power on
himself. So you’ve been having concerns about what’s
happening in Rome? Yes. What do you think Cassius wants in this scene? Well I think it shifts. I think the beginning
of the scene, he simply wants out of his, sort of, frustration and being hurt; he wants
to confront Brutus and say ‘what is going on between us? Why are you behaving in this
way?’. It might be that Brutus tells him that he’s had enough of him, and that’s the end
of it and the friendship’s dying, but what happens in fact is that Brutus says that he’s
had some things on his mind, and that’s why he’s been behaving in this way, because he’s
been caught up in some dark thoughts himself. And at that point, Cassius’ objective shifts,
where he sees, or wonders whether they are the same dark thoughts. I think the danger’s great, isn’t it, so we’ve
got the danger of, ‘you’re in a public space, anybody could come back at any moment, you
wouldn’t want anyone to overhear this conversation’; and also the nature of what you’re talking
about is really dangerous as well. Even each other, potentially I could bring
up ‘Caesar’s a dangerous man and we should do something about it and you could shop me
in’. You could say ‘I absolutely disagree with you, and I’m going to go to the authorities’. Yes ‘I’m going to tell Caesar right now’ – there’s
always that danger as well because Cassius is very aware that despite their own closeness,
Brutus has a particularly special relationship with Caesar. Shall we try a version then, where we really
turn the dial up on the danger, on the awareness that somebody might be nearby somebody could
be overhearing; shall we have a go at that version? Yes, definitely. Brutus:
Vexèd I am of late with passions of some difference, Conceptions only proper to myself,
Which give some soil, perhaps, to my behaviors. But let not therefore my good friends be grieved
(Among which number, Cassius, be you one) Nor construe any further my neglect Than that
poor Brutus, with himself at war, Forgets the shows of love to other men. Cassius: Then, Brutus, I have much mistook
your passion, By means whereof this breast of mine hath buried Thoughts of great value,
worthy cogitations. Tell me, good Brutus, can you see your face? Brutus: No, Cassius, for the eye sees not
itself But by reflection, by some other things. Cassius: ’Tis just. And it is very much
lamented, Brutus, That you have no such mirrors as will turn
Your hidden worthiness into your eye, That you might see your shadow. I have heard Where
many of the best respect in Rome, Except immortal Caesar, speaking of Brutus And groaning underneath
this age’s yoke, Have wished that noble Brutus had his eyes. Brutus: Into what dangers would you lead me,
Cassius, That you would have me seek into myself For that which is not in me? So how was it, doing that version where we
were thinking about ‘the danger’ all around? I think it pre-empts that at the beginning
they were not talking about anything which could be construed as suspicious, or ‘anti’
the regime and then you have less impact when Cassius does say something like ‘groaning
underneath this age’s yoke’ and it just feels like we know from the beginning where the
scene’s going to end up, and then there’s not as far to go. And it’s not a regime where we can’t talk,
but it is a regime where we can’t talk about certain things, so it suddenly became that
we were in, I don’t know, some extraordinarily regime. Yes, some sort of police state where there’s
CCTV cameras – If that were the case we simply wouldn’t have
that conversation. Outside, yeah. We’d go somewhere else. So what could be another way of approaching
the scene? I wonder what will come out if we try it that
it certainly is as much Brutus is working on Cassius in his way – So we’re completely flipping it on its head
in a way, and Brutus is the one driving it – he’s trying to manipulate Cassius – and
see whether that brings anything out? Ok. Let’s give it a go. Brutus:
Vexèd I am of late with passions of some difference, Conceptions only proper to myself,
Which give some soil, perhaps, to my behaviors. But let not therefore my good friends be grieved
(Among which number, Cassius, be you one) Nor construe any further my neglect Than that
poor Brutus, with himself at war, Forgets the shows of love to other men. Cassius: Then, Brutus, I have much mistook
your passion, By means whereof this breast of mine hath buried Thoughts of great value,
worthy cogitations. Tell me, good Brutus, can you see your face? Brutus: No, Cassius, for the eye sees not
itself But by reflection, by some other things. Cassius: ’Tis just. And it is very much
lamented, Brutus, That you have no such mirrors as will turn
Your hidden worthiness into your eye, That you might see your shadow. I have heard Where
many of the best respect in Rome, Except immortal Caesar, speaking of Brutus And groaning underneath
this age’s yoke, Have wished that noble Brutus had his eyes. Brutus: Into what dangers would you lead me,
Cassius, That you would have me seek into myself For that which is not in me? How was that for you both? I think it was probably a bit too far, but
there’s just, there’s something interesting that it brought out for me about their relationship
– that he sort of knows that Cassius is emotionally dependent on his love and his need in some
way. It was quite fun to just be, I’m here to like ‘try and play upon me, I’m open to
options’. And you touched him a bit more, didn’t you?
You sort of went up to him – This is going to make you feel better and
this is like, you know, I haven’t shown you love so I’m going to show you love now. They’re
dependent on each other in their own ways, and that just took it to the extreme; the
level of control that Brutus thinks he has over Cassius and I just think there’s somewhere
in the middle, it’s very clever the choices, the way Cassius actually approaches it with
Brutus, and that Brutus doesn’t realise that his ego’s being appealed to, but underneath
it all that he thinks Cassius may be just talking in general terms; but without really
hearing it, it’s like ‘oh you’re great, you’re great, people think you’re great’. But I think
it’s somewhere in between, of not, if he was completely, if he really didn’t want to deal
with, really didn’t want to have the conversation with Cassius, he’d just leave the stage but
he doesn’t. He chooses to – Cassius keeps him on there, Cassius listening makes him
hear. Cassius didn’t need to change that much, I
felt he could just react to what you were doing – he was still drawn in by you, still
pursuing an objective. You were just making that easier to achieve, because you were interested
and opening up doors. So it meant that you actually didn’t have
to work quite so hard to keep, as Brutus clearly wanted to stay there. And usually it’s a little bit, it’s a little
bit more difficult for you isn’t it? Yes.

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