Blog #4: Freedom within "The Bubble"
Jeremy Thompson (left) as Brutus, Gilberto Saenz as Metellus, Isabella Abel-Suarez as Cinna, and Daria Pilar Redus as Cassius in the Utah Shakespeare Festival educational production of Julius Caesar.
By Daria Pilar Redus
Editor’s Note: This is the fourth and final in a series of blog posts from actor Daria Pilar Redus. She appeared at the Festival in 2018 inBig RiverandThe Greenshowand this year is playing Sarah inRagtimeand Kate inThe Pirates of Penzance*. She is also the recipient of the Festival’s 2021 Michael and Jan Finlayson Acting Award.*
In March of 2020, I was on the first national tour of The SpongeBob Musical experiencing so much artistic fulfillment while traveling to countless theatres around the country. It was a dream come true. Then, the pandemic canceled almost every show nationwide. With that chapter closed, I enjoyed my time at home with my family and watched an absurd number of movies with an even more absurd amount of snacks. It felt like a little vacation at first, but then the itch to work slowly crept back in. I left my parents’ home in Ohio and moved back into my apartment in New York City. Being in the city again made that itch even itchier, and I became desperate to find something that could cheer my heart back up. Right on cue, and completely out of the blue, I received a phone call with a Cedar City area code that would shape the next nine months of my life.
This random phone call came with an offer to be in Julius Caesar as Cassius in the Utah Shakespeare Festival’s upcoming Covid-conscious “tour.” I couldn’t believe it. They remembered me? How can this brilliant director that I’ve never met trust me with this massive role? The Festival had never even seen me perform any Shakespeare. All of these head scratchers, combined with the fact that the mountains of Utah are where I have always been my absolute happiest, made this opportunity feel like a godsend. He knew that not only did I need to be back at my favorite place in the world, but I needed to work on material that would make the fire inside me to tell stories again hotter than ever. And that is exactly what happened.
Rehearsing and performing Julius Caesar was more fulfilling than I even prayed for it to be. The entire month-long process was done in a Covid-safe “bubble.” It began with Zoom rehearsals, and we eventually moved into the Anes Theatre, but were still isolated from everyone else inside and outside of the Festival. We wore masks at all times. The isolation and masks may lead you to believe that we felt trapped. But, the freedom and liberation we felt in getting to work again with an amazingly talented team, even under these new and odd circumstances, was stronger than any of the obstacles that stood in the way of making the process feel “normal.” I clung onto every second of that experience, but it ended too soon. Three weeks of rehearsals and two filmed runs of the show, no audience—it was a tease. I wanted more, I craved more. Then, well . . . fast forward to the Festival’s 2021 summer season. Here we are.
I’m so grateful. This Festival gave me my first professional job out of college. This Festival gave me my first job after the pandemic. This Festival gave me a dream role that I still can’t believe I’m getting the chance to play. I just hope that I’ve given it as much as it’s given me.