With regard to the origin of this play, which I did not write but which was created collaboratively, please see the introductory note in Plays.
The Tragic Consequences of the Assassination of Julius Caesar as Devised and Presented by Cinna, the Poet.
Cinna, having died, makes himself known to the audience.
CHEERFUL MUSIC IS PLAYING AS THE AUDIENCE ENTER. IN FRONT OF THE AUDIENCE ARE TWO CURTAINS SUCH THAT THE AUDIENCE CAN SEE THE STAGE THROUGH THEM. THE CURTAINS EXTEND THE FULL WIDTH OF THE STAGE.
BEHIND THE CURTAINS IS THE ROSTRUM PLACED CENTRE STAGE WITH STEPS FACING THE AUDIENCE. ON THE STAGE FLOOR AT THE FOOT OF THE STEPS IS THE OUTLINE OF A BODY SUCH AS THE POLICE DRAW AFTER AN ACCIDENT OR A SUICIDE. THIS IS THE DEATH SPOT AND IT IS HERE THAT CINNA, CAESAR AND ULTIMATELY, BRUTUS WILL DIE.
ON EITHER SIDE OF THE ROSTRUM ARE THE TWO SCREENS FACING THE AUDIENCE. THEY ARE BLANK.
DURING THE FINAL PIECE OF MUSIC, THE ACTORS ENTER SLOWLY FROM THE BACK OF THE THEATRE AND ADVANCE TOWARDS THE AUDIENCE. THE FIRST TWO ACTORS TO REACH THE FRONT OPEN THE CURTAINS, PUSHING THEM TO THE SIDE.
ALL THE ACTORS ARE DRESSED TO SUGGEST A CROSS SECTION OF MODERN SOCIETY – THE KIND OF PEOPLE ONE MIGHT FIND ON A BUSY DAY IN ANY MODERN CITY. THUS BUSINESS MEN, SCHOOL CHILDREN, HOUSEWIVES, A NURSE, A HOUSE-PAINTER ETC SHOULD BE REPRESENTED. ONE SHOULD BE WHEELING A PRAM, ANOTHER A BICYCLE, ANOTHER WILL HAVE A BAG FULL OF SHOPPING ETC. THEY STAND FACING THE AUDIENCE: NOT AGGRESSIVELY AND NOT LIKE DUMMIES, JUST LOOKING BUT WITHOUT SIGNIFICANT EXPRESSION.
WHEN THE MUSIC ENDS, THERE IS A BRIEF PAUSE, AND THEN THE STAGE AND THE AUDITORIUM LIGHTS FADE SLOWLY AND OMINOUSLY TO BLACK.
AFTER A MOMENT’S PAUSE, WE HEAR A MASSIVE EXPLOSION. FOLLOWED BY THE SOUND OF A FULL SCALE RIOT. SIRENS HOWL, PEOPLE SCREAM, WINDOWS SHATTER. GUNFIRE IS HEARD IN THE STREETS AND THE POP OF TEAR GAS CANISTERS ETC ETC.
IN THE BLACKOUT, THE SCREENS ARE TURNED TO REVEAL PICTURES OF BRUTUS AND CASSIUS, DAUBED WITH SLOGANS AND SPATTERED WITH BLOOD.
THE LIGHTS COME UP TO REVEAL THE RIOT IN PROGRESS. NOW CORPSES OF CITIZENS, SUMMARILY EXECUTED IN THE STREETS, HANG DOWN FROM THE GRID. THE LIGHTING SHOULD SUGGEST BUILDINGS ON FIRE. IF POSSIBLE, SMOKE SHOULD DESCEND FROM ABOVE.
A DUMMY REPRESENTING CINNA THE POET STUMBLES UP THE STEPS AT THE BACK OF THE ROSTRUM AND FACES THE CROWD. THE DUMMY IS MANIPULATED FROM BEHIND BY THE ACTOR WHO PLAYS CINNA. THE DUMMY NEED NOT BE TOO REALISTIC BUT IT MUST BE WEARING THE SAME CLOTHES AS CINNA.
ON A CUE FROM CINNA THE MOB SUDDENLY TURN ON HIM EN MASSE AND BEGIN THEIR INTERROGATION.
THE CROWD CAN BE DIVIDED INTO 4 GROUPS A, B, C, D. THE SOUND FADES UNDER WHEN THE DIALOGUE STARTS.
GROUP A. What is your name?
GROUP B. Whither are you going?
GROUP C. Where do you dwell?
GROUP D. Are you married,
GROUP A or single?
ALL. Answer directly.
GROUP B. Ay, and briefly.
GROUP C. Ay, and wisely.
GROUP D. Ay, and truly;
ALL you were best.
CINNA. What is my name? Whither am I going? Where do I dwell? Am I married or single? Then, to answer every one directly and briefly, wisely and truly. Wisely I say I am single.
CITIZEN 1. (WOMAN) That’s as much as to say they are fools that marry; you’ll bear
me a bang for that, (SHE HITS THE DUMMY. EVERYONE LAUGHS). Proceed; directly.
CINNA. Directly, I am going to Caesar’s funeral.
ALL. As a friend, or an enemy?
CINNA. As a friend.
CITIZEN 2. (AS THOUGH CALMING THE SITUATION) That matter is answered directly. (SUDDENLY HITS THE DUMMY WHICH CRUMPLES IN PAIN. ALL LAUGH)
GROUP A AND C. For your dwelling–briefly.
CINNA. Briefly, I dwell by the Capitol.
GROUP B AND D Your name, truly.
CINNA. Truly, my name is Cinna.
ALL. CINNA (THEY ADVANCE)
GROUP D Tear him to pieces!
GROUP A He’s a conspirator.
ALL Tear him to pieces. (THEY SURROUND THE ROSTRUM. CINNA HAS NO WHERE TO TURN)
CINNA. (SCREAMING) I am Cinna the poet. I am Cinna the poet.
GROUP B. Tear him for his bad verses,
GROUP C Tear him for his bad verses.
CINNA. I am not Cinna the conspirator. (THE MOB ADVANCES)
CITIZEN 1. It is no matter, your name’s Cinna;
CITIZEN 2 (HAS CLIMBED ONTO THE ROSTRUM BEHIND CINNA) Pluck but his name out of his heart, and tear him. (PUSHES CINNA DOWN INTO THE CROWD.)
ALL Tear him. (WITH MOUNTING INTENSITY) Kill, Kill, Kill, Kill, Kill, Kill, Kill, Kill
THE MOB BEAT THE DUMMY TO DEATH. UNDER COVER OF THIS, THE ACTOR WHO PLAYS CINNA WILL TAKE THE DUMMY’S PLACE.
THE MOB DRAWS BACK TO REVEAL THE MANGLED CORPSE OF CINNA.
THEN THEY TURN ON THE AUDIENCE ANGRILY AND THREATENINGLY BEFORE RUNNING OFF SCREAMING WHEN A POLICE SIREN SOUNDS.
A FEW BODIES ARE LEFT BEHIND. THESE ARE OTHER VICTIMS.
THE PRAM IS UP-TIPPED, THE BABY DEAD. THE SHOPPING BAG HAS SPILLED. THE BICYCLE IS ON ITS SIDE, WHEELS STILL TURNING, THE RIDER LIES DEAD BESIDE IT. THERE IS RUBBISH ON THE STAGE. THE SOUND OF RIOT INCREASES AND THEN FADES.
A MOMENT OF SILENCE AND THEN WE HEAR A SAD MUSIC. STAGE LIGHTING BECOMES STILL. SLOWLY CINNA THE POET COMES ALIVE. HE STANDS UP AND LOOKS AT THE CORPSE OF HIMSELF..
CINNA (HE TURNS TO THE AUDIENCE) Well it was a quick death, if a painful one, and I suppose I should be grateful for that. (HE LOOKS ROUND, SEES THE BODIES AND THE RUINS) A short poem is called for. I feel one coming on. I call it
After The Ball is Over.
After the Ball is over,
Wherever you look,
There are shapes in the shadows.
But no friends come to the dying man.
After the ball is over,
the scent in the air
is of fear and flesh,
It hangs in the air like smoke,
And wraps round the windows and doors.
Look. Someone ripped
and left to rot
a sack of stardust
in the street…
or is it broken glass?
If so, that craves wary walking.
They say it was quite a party.
See, the town was painted red.
And now the merry revellers
have gone home to their bed.
The streets they’ve handed to the dogs,
to Bonzo, Nero and Rover,
hungry for anything, living or dead,
now that the ball is over.
HE APPROACHES THE AUDIENCE.
It did not have to be like this. Things could have been managed better. To be honest with you, it is not the Immortal Gods that I am afraid of, it is the mortals who live here below who give me the shits. The Romans had a proverb: Humiles laborant, ubi potentes dissident. Freely translated it means the lowly people have a hard time when the powerful men disagree – I’m thinking of Cassius and Brutus, Antonia and Caesar. But then if they’d been sensible and decent we wouldn’t have a play, would we? Or we would have a different play. A play about people just muddling along, doing their best to be happy. Falling into love and falling out of love and everything in between
HE PULLS HIMSELF TOGETHER AND BEGINS TO SPEAK WITH MORE ENERGY. CINNA IS FUNDAMENTALLY A CHEERFUL, FRIENDLY PERSON. NOT A BRILLIANT POET PERHAPS, BUT NOT BAD EITHER AND ALL THE POEMS, EVEN WHEN COMIC, MUST BE DELIVERED SERIOUSLY. ABOVE ALL, CINNA HAS SOMETHING TO SAY.
CINNA Could you cut the sad music. And you lot, clear this place up.
MUSIC STOPS. THE DEAD BODIES ON STAGE COME ALIVE. THEY CLEAR THE STAGE CHEERFULLY. THE HANGING CORPSES ARE LIFTED OUT OF SIGHT.
CINNA Well as you have probably gathered my name is Cinna. Cinna the Poet. Perhaps you’ve heard of me? (OPTIMISTIC. LOOKS ROUND) Yes? (DEFLATED) No. (PAUSE) Cinna the Undertaker perhaps. No? Cinna the Odd Job man? No? Cinna the Waiter? Oh come, come, come. You’ve seen my by the thousand in any café where they sell liquor, looking out for the tips, hovering, checking to see whether the bottles are empty… and if they are not… a nip on the side when the last punter’s gone. Poetry does not pay well, you see, and so I am a man of many trades and many names. I might even be a ghost one day. (HE LAUGHS AND MAKES A CONVENTIONAL GHOST MOVEMENT WITH ARMS OUT IN FRONT. THEN HE IS SUDDENLY SERIOUS AND MENACING) I am also Rex Ludorum, King of the Revels and Cinna the Spirit of Justice and Revenge and I’m going hunting for Brutus and Cassius. (SHORT PAUSE. HE LOOKS ROUND) Now that’s got you thinking. Do not let the fact that I am dead alarm you. It certainly does not seem to bother me and it gives me a certain perspective on things human. So now, in the time-honoured phrase of the theatre, “Let me entertain you.”
(HE CLAPS HIS HANDS AND SHOUTS) A change of costume is called for.
IMMEDIATELY CHEERFUL CHORDS ARE HEARD ON THE CITHERA – AND A SUITCASE DESCENDS FROM THE GRID.
THE LIGHTING CHANGES. A FEW OF THE CITIZENS ENTER TO DO THE SET CHANGE. THEY ARE BRIGHTLY CLOTHED AS FOR A CARNIVAL. QUICKLY THE RUINED CITY IS TRANSFORMED. THE SCREENS ARE TURNED AND MOVED. CAFÉ TABLES AND CHAIRS ARE BROUGHT ON AND A SMALL SUNNY CONTINENTAL STYLE CAFÉ IS SET UP TO ONE SIDE. WHERE THERE WERE CORPSES HANGING, FLAGS NOW FLUTTER.
AFTER THE JOB IS DONE, ONE CITIZEN STAYS ON STAGE AND SITS AND LISTENS ADMIRINGLY TO CINNA.
DURING THE FOLLOWING SPEECH CINNA PUTS ON A SMOCK AND A WIG. HE RETAINS A MASK WITH A BIG NOSE AND SUN GLASSES, AS WELL AS A WHITE STICK. HE TOSSES THE TATTERED CINNA CLOTHES TO THE ATTENDANT WHO PUTS THEM INTO THE SUITCASE, WHISTLES, AND THE CASE IS WHISKED UP INTO THE GRID.
CINNA And why the disguise you ask. Well we poets have visions. We are such things as dreams are made of, and I dreamed last night that something terrible – I know not what exactly – was going to befall the city and Caesar. The Ides of March, that is to say the 15th of March, is a dangerous time for Caesar, and things unluckily charge my fantasy. I had no will to wander forth of doors today, yet something led me forth.. For I must warn Caesar. (SHORT PAUSE) But who would listen to Cinna the poet? No one. Who knows Cinna the Poet? No one. So, being aware that Great Julius is grown superstitious of late, I decided to garb myself as a Soothsayer. That way he will listen to me. I’ll wait for him here where the procession will pass
LIVELY MUSIC STARTS SOFTLY. A SOLDIER ENTERS AND TAKES UP POSITION ON THE PLATFORM. HE STANDS AT EASE, BUT IS VERY WATCHFUL. HE IS ‘SECURITY’ AND HAS A GUN.
CINNA Hello, things are starting up. Won’t be long now and they’ll all come trooping by here. It is the Feast of Lupercal you know, a spring festival honouring wolves and the founding of the city, when any kind of hanky-panky can happen. …
MUSIC LOUDER. THE COMMON PEOPLE DANCE ONTO STAGE DRESSED AS FOR A CARNIVAL OR THE RUGBY SEVENS. ADD SOUND EFFECTS OF A CROWD. MUCH CHATTERING AND EXCITEMENT. BALLOONS ARE RELEASED FROM THE GRID ONTO THE AUDIENCE AND STAGE.
CINNA They’ll be here any moment now. And here they are.
MUSIC FADES. THE SOLDIER COMES TO ATTENTION AND STEPS DOWN FROM THE ROSTRUM AND MOVES THE CROWD BACK.
ENTER CASCA AND CASSIUS. THEY MOUNT THE ROSTRUM AND AS THEY REACH THE CENTRE, CINNA CALLS AND CLAPS HIS HANDS. IMMEDIATELY, THE LIGHTS CHANGE, THE MUSIC STOPS AND THE CHARACTERS AND CROWD FREEZE, THEY REMAIN LIKE THIS WHILE CINNA SPEAKS. NB. THIS SEQUENCE OCCURS FOR EACH ENTRY.
CINNA That’s Casca. Head of a large State Enterprise. Got an abrasive wit and a lot of clout. Best keep on the right side of Casca. Has a pair of poodles at home called Scylla and Charybdis. (POINTING TO CASSIUS) And this is Caius Cassius. Watch her closely. She reads much; She is a great observer, and looks quite through the deeds of men: She loves no plays, She hears no music: Seldom she smiles; and when she does, she smiles in such a sort as if she mock’d herself. Such women be never at heart’s ease whiles they behold a greater than themselves such as Caesar. And therefore are they very dangerous.
CINNA THE POET CLAPS HIS HANDS AND THE LIGHTS CHANGE BACK TO THE CARNIVAL. CASCA AND CASSIUS DESCEND TO APPLAUSE.
ENTER CICERO DRESSED IN A TOGA AND WITH LONG WHITE HAIR AND BEARD. HE IS ACCOMPANIED BY CINNA THE CONSPIRATOR. CICERO IS VERY POPULAR. TUMULTUOUS APPLAUSE. LIGHTS CHANGE. FREEZE ETC.
CINNA Now this is Marcus Tullius Cicero. Famous orator. Beautiful Latin. Was at one time called ‘The Father of his Country.’ Note him well. Another victim. He was cut down by Antonia’s soldiers because he wrote a fierce criticism of her. Read the Philippics. (TO CINNA THE CONSPIRATER) And here is Cinna, the Conspirator, same name as me, no relation. A politician. How could they mistake me for him.
LIGHTS CHANGE BACK TO THE CARNIVAL AND CINNA AND CICERO DESCEND TO APPLAUSE.. ENTER BRUTUS AND PORTIA. BRUTUS IS A HANDSOME ARISTOCRAT AND A GREAT FAVOURITE WITH THE CROWD. PORTIA IS BEAUTIFUL AND A LEADER OF FASHION. FREEZE ETC.
CINNA This is Brutus, A man of honour if ever there was one. Set honour in one eye and death i’ the other and he would look on both indifferently. Not good at telling jokes, on the whole, but when you are as powerful as he is, who cares. (TO PORTIA) And here’s Portia, Brutus’ wife and Cato’s daughter, and a beautiful women in her own right. But strange and intense too. Given to body-piercing and strange diets – likes hot food.
LIGHTS CHANGE BACK TO CARNIVAL. BRUTUS AND PORTIA DESCEND TO APPLAUSE. ENTER CALPURNIA AND ANTONIA. LIGHTS CHANGE.
CINNA Calpurnia, she’s Caesar’s wife but the gossip is they don’t get on because she can’t have children, and she hits the bottle. Though that’s understandable. From what I hear, he always works late at the office, if you take my meaning. (TO ANTONIA) Antonia, Likeable. Very likeable. Too likeable, and plausible and brave too. And therefore very dangerous. She might look a bit louche, a good-time gal, but she’s got a mind like a rat-trap and she never forgives.
LIGHTS CHANGE BACK TO THE CARNIVAL AND CALPURNIA AND ANTONIA DESCEND TO APPLAUSE.
CINNA And now here he is, the Great Caesar in person.
TRIUMPHAL TRUMPETS. MUCH CHEERING. CAESAR ENTERS. HE RAISES HIS HANDS TO WAVE TO THE CROWD. VERY PRESIDENTIAL. CAMERAS FLASH. THE MUSIC STOPS AND ALL THE PEOPLE ON STAGE BOW.
CAESAR Set on, and leave no ceremony out. (TRUMPETS)
CINNA That’s my cue. (CINNA PUTS ON THE MASK WITH DARK GLASSES AND FUNNY NOSE. TAPS WITH HIS WHITE STICK. CAESAR COMES DOWN THE STEPS. CINNA CALLS OUT) Caesar
CAESAR. Ha! Who calls?
CASCA. Bid every noise be still.–Peace yet again! (MUSIC STOPS)
CAESAR. Who is it in the press that calls on me?
I hear a tongue, shriller than all the music,
Cry “Caesar”! Speak, Caesar is turn’d to hear.
CINNA/SOOTHSAYER. (STEPS FORWARD, WITH HIS WHITE STICK PUSHED OUT PRETENDING TO BE TOTALLY BLIND) Beware the Ides of March.
HE IS PROMPTLY ARRESTED BY BRUTUS AND CASSIUS AND THE SECURITY FORCES. THEY WOULD MARCH HIM AWAY, EXCEPT THAT CAESAR RAISES HIS HAND TO STOP THEM.
CAESAR. What man is that?
BRUTUS. A soothsayer bids you beware the Ides of March.
CAESAR. Set him before me; let me see his face.
CASSIUS. Fellow, come from the throng; look upon Caesar.
CINNA/SOOTH What, with this case of eyes.?
CAESAR. What say’st thou to me now? Speak once again.
CINNA/SOOTH RAISES HIS HAND AND TOUCHES CAESAR’S FACE.
SOOTHSAYER. Beware the Ides of March. (CAESAR IS SHOCKED BUT RECOVERS)
CAESAR. He is a dreamer. (ALL LAUGH) Let us leave him. Pass.
TRUMPETS SOUND. CAESAR, CALPURNIA, ANTONIA, PORTIA, CINNA, CICERO AND CASCA DEPART FOLLOWED BY THE CROWD.
CINNA (TO THE AUDIENCE) Caesar got my message. Much good may it do us all. Time for a quick change.
CINNA WHISTLES. SUITCASE DESCENDS. FROM THE SUITCASE HE TAKES AN APRON AND ANYTHING ELSE THAT WILL TRANSFORM HIM INTO A CONTINENTAL WAITER. THE SOOTHSAYER CLOTHES ARE THROWN INTO THE SUIT CASE WHICH THEN PROMPTLY ASCENDS.
MEANWHILE, CASSIUS HAS MOVED TO THE SMALL CAFE AND SITS AT ONE OF THE TABLES WITH HIS NEWSPAPER. CINNA SERVES HIM WINE AND TWO GLASSES. BRUTUS AFTER INITIALLY SEEMING TO FOLLOW THE PROCESSION HAS RETURNED AND IS INTERCEPTED BY CASSIUS.
Scene 2 In which Cicero talks about Rhetoric while Cinna the Poet watches Cassius woo Brutus.
DURING THE SCENE, CINNA IS THE PERFECT WAITER. HIS MOVEMENTS ARE NEVER RUSHED. BUT HE IS ALL EARS AND HE MISSES NOTHING. BOTH BRUTUS AND CASSIUS IGNORE HIM COMPLETELY.
CASSIUS. Will you go see the order of the course?
BRUTUS. Not I. I am not gamesome; I do lack some part
Of that quick spirit that is in Antonia.
Let me not hinder, Cassius, your desires;
I’ll leave you.
CASSIUS. Brutus, I do observe you now of late:
I have not from your eyes that gentleness
And show of love as I was wont to have:
You bear too stubborn and too strange a hand
Over your friend that loves you.
Be not deceived if I have veil’d my look.
Vexed I am of late with passions of some difference,
But let not therefore my good friends be grieved–
Among which number, Cassius, be you one–
(HE WANTS TO MOVE AWAY BUT CASSIUS WALKS HIM OVER TO HER TABLE.
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?
MEANWHILE, OLD CICERO AND MERRY TRICKS, HIS YOUNG AND ATTRACTIVE MISTRESS ENTER AT THE OTHER SIDE OF THE STAGE. THE OLD MAN WALKS WITH A STICK AND IS FANNING HIMSELF WITH THE SUNDAY TIMES. MERRY T IS VERY ATTENTIVE TO HIM AND WE SHOULD SENSE GENUINE AFFECTION. THEY SIT AND CINNA HURRIES OVER AND TAKES THEIR ORDER.
BRUTUS. No, Cassius, for the eye sees not itself
But by reflection, by some other thing.
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
I have heard
Where many of the best respect in Rome,–
Except immortal Caesar!– speaking of Brutus,
Have wish’d 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?
CASSIUS. Therefore, good Brutus, be prepared to hear;
And since you know you cannot see yourself
I, your glass, will modestly discover to yourself
That of yourself which you yet know not of.
TRUMPET CALLS FOLLOWED BY DISTANT CHEERING OFF STAGE.
BRUTUS. What means this shouting? I do fear the people
Choose Caesar for their king.
CASSIUS. Ay, do you fear it?
Then must I think you would not have it so.
BRUTUS. I would not, Cassius; yet I love him well,
But wherefore do you hold me here so long?
What is it that you would impart to me?
If it be aught toward the general good,
Set honour in one eye and death i’ the other
And I will look on both indifferently;
For let the gods so speed me as I love
The name of honour more than I fear death.
CINNA INTERRUPTS THE SCENE. BRUTUS AND CASSIUS FREEZE.
CINNA And there you have him. Brutus. ” Set honour in one eye and death i’ the other And I will look on both indifferently;” We poets love such language, and these men can use language magnificently. The way that words slip and slide from them. In a word, how they manipulate.
CINNA MOVES TO THE NEARBY TABLE WHERE CICERO IS SIPPING COFFEE AND READING HIS PAPER, AND TALKING TO MERRY TRICKS. SHE IS GENUINELY INTERESTED WHILE DOING HER NAILS.
I don’t suppose Rome’s lord of Latin prose, Cicero, would care to shed light on The Art of Rhetoric.?
CICERO (LOOKS UP FROM HIS PAPER.) Who me? Why thank you. A great pleasure.
HE SPEAKS WITH AN EDUCATED SCHOLARLY ACCENT. WHEN HE SPEAKS TO THE AUDIENCE IT IS WITH CHEERFUL ENERGY. HE IS NOT AT ALL PEDANTIC OR POMPOUS. HE TAKES HIS STICK AND MOVES TO ADDRESS THE AUDIENCE.)
CICERO Good evening.
CINNA So what exactly is rhetoric?
CICERO For many, Rhetoric may be defined as the faculty of observing in any given case the available means of persuasion.
CICERO Well yes. I suppose so.
CINNA Was that your definition?
CICERO Good God no! Aristotle. Long time ago. Others would also have it that Rhetoric should be a study of misunderstanding and its remedies. I say, the orator must be accomplished in every kind of discourse and every kind of culture, because the study and use of rhetoric enables one to move others, to get things done. Of course, if you wanted a lengthy discussion on the art itself, there are various numbers of divisions into which we can divide the rhetorical skills, such as (QUICKLY) invention, arrangement, style, memory, delivery, presentation…. These in turn require further division in terms of the message, the speaker, the audience and the occasion, and so on. Quite a complex subject. But leave the jargon aside for a moment and consider in practice what we have here. Caius Cassius is a quick-witted woman and she knows Brutus likewise to be highly intelligent. Therefore, in attempting to persuade her intellectual quarry (BRUTUS NODS) she calculates exactly the choice of words and the kinds of argument she needs to pitch, while at the same time adopting a convincing tone of reason, rationality, a dash of humour and parody and logic. Am I not right Caius Cassius?
CASSIUS (UNFREEZES FOR A MOMENT) Yes. Er No. Er Yes.
CICERO Ah, negative questions are always difficult to answer. She knows all too well that an appeal to tears would be both wasted and ineffective on this particular audience. Later on of course, mischievous Antonia,, will use tears to great effect when wooing the mob, but they are a pretty naive crew by and large, and prey to any simple rhetorical tricks. Of course, that’s not to say that emotion should be swept aside when dealing with an intelligent listener. I expect that Cassius will, just as poignantly, play on Brutus’ fears. She will appeal to his honour -for honour is the Achilles heel in Brutus’ armour, if that is not too gross a metaphor, what? (LAUGHS). She will prey upon the danger to the state and to Caesar’s infirmities. She will mock, ridicule and warn, while herself pretending to be honest – all in one compelling example of oration. At least that’s what I would do. Thank you.
CICERO IS GIVEN A ROUND OF APPLAUSE. HE RETURNS TO HIS SEAT WHERE MERRY T GIVES HIM A BIG SMOOCH.
CINNA (TO CASSIUS.) OK Caius, you’ve got Butus’ attention so far. Let’s see if you can keep it.
CASSIUS AND BRUTUS UN-FREEZE AND CONTINUE WITH THE SCENE.
CASSIUS. Well, honour is the subject of my story.
I cannot tell what you and other men
Think of this life; but, for my single self,
I had as lief not be as live to be
In awe of such a thing as I myself.
I was born free as Caesar; so were you:
We both have fed as well; and we can both
Endure the winter’s cold as well as he:
For once, upon a raw and gusty day,
The troubled Tiber chafing with her shores,
Caesar said to me, “Darest thou, Cassius, now
Leap in with me into this angry flood
And swim to yonder point?” Upon the word,
Accoutred as I was, I plungèd in,
And bade him follow: so indeed he did.
The torrent roar’d, and we did buffet it
With lusty sinews, throwing it aside
But ere we could arrive the point proposed,
Caesar cried, “Help me, Cassius, or I sink!
I, as Aeneas, our great ancestor,
Did from the flames of Troy upon his shoulder
The old Anchises bear, so from the waves of Tiber
Did I the tired Caesar: and this man
Is now become a god; and Cassius is
A wretched creature, and must bend his body,
If Caesar carelessly but nod on him.
He had a fever when he was in Spain;
And when the fit was on him I did mark
How he did shake: ’tis true, this god did shake:
Ay, and that tongue of his that bade the Romans
Mark him, and write his speeches in their books,
Alas, it cried, “Give me some drink, Titinius,”
As a sick girl.–Ye gods, it doth amaze me,
A man of such a feeble temper should
So get the start of the majestic world,
And bear the palm alone.
TRUMPET CALL AND CHEERING OFF
BRUTUS. Another general shout!
I do believe that these applauses are
For some new honours that are heap’d on Caesar.
CASSIUS. Why, man, he doth bestride the narrow world
Like a Colossus; and we petty men
Walk under his huge legs and peep about
To find ourselves dishonourable graves.
Men at some time are masters of their fates:
The fault, dear Brutus, is not in our stars,
But in ourselves, that we are underlings.
“Brutus” and “Caesar”: what should be in that “Caesar”?
Why should that name be sounded more than yours?
“Brutus” will start a spirit as soon as “Caesar.”
Now, in the names of all the gods at once,
Upon what meat doth this our Caesar feed
That he is grown so great? Age, thou art shamed!
Rome, thou hast lost the breed of noble bloods!
When went there by an age since the great flood,
But it was famed with more than with one man?
When could they say, till now, that talk’d of Rome,
That her wide walls encompass’d but one man?
Now is it Rome indeed, and room enough,
When there is in it but one only man.
O, you and I have heard our fathers ay
There was a Brutus once that would have brook’d
Th’ eternal devil to keep his state in Rome,
As easily as a king!
CINNA (TO THE AUDIENCE) And there, we’ll stop. This scene goes on a bit, but all you really need to know is that at the games, Antonia has offered Caesar a crown thrice, and that each time it has been refused by Caesar. However, as Casca later tells us, “each timer gentler than the other for he would fain have had it.” This news worries Brutus greatly. Oh yes, and the crowds hooted and shouted and threw their sweaty night caps in the air and uttered such a deal of stinking breath that Caesar fell down in an epileptic fit. True. It is called the falling sickness. Thus Caesar, apart from his peculiar birth was an epileptic!
Now Brutus has been weighing things up.
BRUTUS. That you do love me, I am nothing jealous;
What you would work me to, I have some aim:
What you have said,
I will consider; what you have to say,
I will with patience hear;.
Till then, my noble friend, chew upon this:
Brutus had rather be a villager
Than to repute himself a son of Rome
Under these hard conditions as this time
Is like to lay upon us.
CASSIUS. I am glad that my weak words
Have struck but thus much show of fire from Brutus.
BRUTUS. The games are done, and Caesar is returning
Tomorrow, if you please to speak with me,
I will come home to you; or, if you will,
Come home to me, and I will wait for you.
CASSIUS. I will do so: till then, think of the world.—
EXIT BRUTUS. HE GIVES CINNA A TIP. CINNA BEGINS TO TIDY UP. CICERO AND MERRY T GET UP TO LEAVE. CASSIUS SITS BROODING.
CINNA (TO CICERO) So what would you give Cassius, out of ten, Sir?
CICERO Oh.. Five out of ten and E for effort. She struck me as rather jealous, and that weakens her case. She should have talked more about honour and the danger to the state. No matter. (CICERO AND MERRY T GO OFF ARM IN ARM.) Cheery-bye.
CASSIUS Well, Brutus, thou art noble; yet, I see,
Thy honourable metal may be wrought,
From that it is disposed: therefore ’tis meet
That noble minds keep ever with their likes;
For who so firm that cannot be seduced?
Caesar doth bear me hard, but he loves Brutus;
If I were Brutus now and he were Cassius,
He should not humour me. I will this night,
In several hands, in at his windows throw,
As if they came from several citizens,
Writings all tending to the great opinion
That Rome holds of his name;
wherein obscurely Caesar’s ambition
shall be glancèd at:
Garçon, bring me pen and paper, wax and string –
And after this let Caesar seat him sure;
For we will shake him, or worse days endure.
CINNA BRINGS IN THE WRITING THINGS AND PUTS THEM ON THE TABLE. CASSIUS HOLDS UP A BANK NOTE. WHEN CINNA GOES TO TAKE IT, SHE MOVES IT AWAY.
Money gained must be money earned. Tonight you will take these letters I shall write and cast them in through Brutus’ window. You know his house.
CINNA Yes. 69 Coliseum Crescent. Big house, lots of gardens. Lovely view of the Tiber.
CASSIUS Yes and when t’is done, and t’were well t’were done quickly, (CINNA NODS) repair thee to my house. You know where I live?
CINNA 83 Pollux Road, just past the turning to the forum.
CASSIUS NO. That is Caesar’s House. I live at 37 Viaduct Villas just part the Romulus and Remus Roundabout. Clear?
CASSIUS Good. And whatever you do, don’t deliver the letters to Caesar’s house. (OBVIOUSLY INVENTING) We’re planning a surprise party for him.(LAUGHS) Now amuse yourself while I write these and pour me out another glass of wine. Thirsty work, plotting.
CASSIUS SETTLES TO WRITE, ROLL AND TIE HIS LETTERS. CINNA THE POET ADDRESSES THE AUDIENCE.
CINNA Now while Cassius is composing, here are two little poems I wrote just now. (HE PRODUCES A SERVIETTE ON WHICH HE HAS BEEN SCRIBBLING.) The first is called The Overthrow of Tyranny and the second Protection of the Status Quo. I’m such a ditherer. Never can make my mind up.
——–The Overthrow of Tyranny——
When ideals great do catch a man,
They sometimes make him seek
To position impositions
And so make others meek.
Thus a vision of some lofty sort
Embodied now becomes,
A mighty weight which crushes all
and to which each man succumbs.
When trundles forth a Tyranny
What ought a Roman do,
But lay hold on his Liberty (Libido?),
Before it passes too?
For life deprived of Liberty is
As a way of life soon palls
So when you meet with Tyranny,
Kick it in the balls.
And here is the second.
—-Protection of the Status Quo—-
Rome is plump,
Pregnant with the golden wreath of Peace.
After the hard labour of War,
She relaxes and all is well.
Neither great men or gods.
Are needed now to tell us what’s the score.
She is our lady. We her lord.
Refined in the fire of the Republic
We celebrate the great occasion.
Rome is ripe,
The vine is green, Now is not the time
for Rome to turn again, return again,
turn on herself once more.
In Peace let Rome remember
the withering of War.
She is our lady. We her lord.
Refined in the fire of the Republic
We celebrate the great occasion.
Signed copies are available at the foyer if you…..
BY THE TIME THE POEMS ARE FINISHED, CASSIUS SHOULD HAVE SOME SIX LETTERS WRITTEN AND TIED. HE HANDS THESE TO CINNA.
CASSIUS Garçon. Deliver these. (SHE HANDS THEM TO CINNA WHO STICKS HIS HAND OUT HOPING FOR A TIP.) What do you want? You get your pay when the job is done.
CINNA I was wondering if you’d care to buy a small book of verse, Madam?
CASSIUS No I would not. I only read non-fiction. (SHE TURNS TO GO AND THEN TURNS BACK, LOOKS AT CINNA. Don’t read the letters.
THEN SHE PICKS UP THE HALF-FULL BOTTLE OF WINE AND TAKES IT WITH HER. CINNA MAKES A RUDE GESTURE WITH ONE FINGER. WITHOUT TURNING, CASSIUS STOPS AND SAYS “I saw that.”
WHEN SHE HAS GONE, CINNA LETS OUR A BREATH.
CINNA Like hell I won’t read them. I want to know what is going on. (CINNA RIPS OPEN ONE OF THE LETTERS. READS) Brutus thou sleepest! Awake and see thyself. Shall Rome suffer…. Speak. Strike, Redress. Brutus thou sleepest. Awake.” Well I don’t see any harm in that. But I must be careful. “The minnows that swim with the big fish, are always the first to get eaten, just as carpets that most are be-trodden are always the first to get beaten.” You can quote me.
FROM DIRECTLY ABOVE CINNA THERE IS A SUDDEN LOUD CLAP OF THUNDER. TORRENTIAL RAIN BEGINS TO FALL. LIGHTENING FLASHES. THIS WILL CONTINUE FOR SOME TIME.