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Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Vox Populi, Vox Dei: Community Chorus Diaries, Volume One

“The voice of the people is the voice of God.” So says the proverb, and so say we here at the BAM blog.

In this spirit, we’ve conducted interviews with the community chorus members now gracing the Harvey stage in the Royal Shakespeare Company’s Julius Caesar.

With every production, the RSC casts its Roman public anew from the local community. Here, these unique New Yorkers share their favorite moments, personal stories, and insights on this remarkable tragedy of the commons.

Name: Tomike Ogugua
Age: 34
Neighborhood: Bushwick
Occupation: Teaching Artist

What about this experience has been most exciting to you?
The most exciting part of this experience is working with RSC. It has been a goal of mine to work in England, but England came to me!

Does being at BAM feel any different now that you’ve been on stage?
BAM does feel more like home now that I've been on stage here. I've come to BAM for the Cinema and events like Dance Africa in the past, but to be part of the BAM family, especially in this capacity is special for a lot of different reasons.

Most surprising part about this experience for you?
Has to be how grounded and all-around pleasant the entire cast has been. The humility is refreshing. Ensemble work is the central focus and there hasn't been a single ego issue. I'm quite impressed with it all.

Which would you choose: corrupt democracy or beloved monarch? Hmmm ... I live in America...I am only used to Door #1, lol...

Name: Ashley Theagene
Age: 22
Neighborhood: Ditmas Park West
Occupation: Student at Long Island University Brooklyn/house manager at the Actors Fund Arts Center Downtown Brooklyn/floral & event assistant at the Party Palace Events

Any backstage secrets to share?
I'm sure everyone thinks we're backstage in quiet contemplation of Shakespeare's words, but we're constantly snacking on whatever we have to share. Constantly.

How did you feel about Shakespeare before this experience? And how do you feel now?
Before Shakespeare was a very distant and stoic block of text. I would always hear that Shakespeare had a word for every situation, but I could never find the heart behind it. In watching the RSC production, I feel the words and emotions of Brutus and Anthony more than I have before. It makes me wonder what other depths I might have missed in other Shakespearean classics.

Which would you choose: corrupt democracy or beloved monarch?

Corrupt democracy: a beloved monarch is certainly not beloved by all, and after his downfall there might "a worse come in his place." I would rather struggle through the difficulties of a corrupt democracy, with hope and determination that my actions might make a difference, than labor under a monarchy with neither.

Name: Raven Jones
Age: 57
Neighborhood: Bedford-Stuyvesant
Occupation: Freelance poet, BAM usher/monitor

Last time you were on stage?
This is my first experience on stage.

Do you have a favorite line in the play?
Yes, my favorite line is, “Did not great Julius bleed for justice' sake?”

How did you feel about Shakespeare before this experience?
I always liked Shakespeare's work, but I never saw its correlation to our community.

How do you feel now?
Now, I appreciate Shakespeare's work because his work is timeless, and I can see how it relates to our community. I understand his work more thanks to the Lab work we have done.

Which would you choose: corrupt democracy or beloved monarch?
I choose a corrupt democracy because it is better than a beloved monarch. Under a corrupt democracy, I would have the right and freedom to protest that decision. I could campaign for change, but not under a monarch.

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