Senior Shasta Ganti stars as Brutus in ‘Julius Caesar’

October 29, 2018 — by Anishi Patel and Oliver Ye

Senior Shasta Ganti takes on the challenge of playing Brutus, whose character contrasts with his previous castings, in the Fall Play

This November, senior Shasta Ganti will be taking part in the 10th drama production of his high school career, as Brutus in “Julius Caesar.” The senior can often be found in the Thermond Drama Center, emotionally performing his lines with a script in hand.

Ganti said he has gained many invaluable skills through drama, including self-confidence, improved public speaking and a sharpened ability to relate to and understand character’s emotions.

“It’s made me more empathetic — the ability to relate to a fictional character and portray them well, is definitely similar to being able to understand people’s emotions and motivations,” Ganti said.

While Ganti is now one of the most experienced students in the drama department, he joined the program purely because he needed the elective credit. Gradually, he fell in love with the class.

“Shasta was in Drama 1 right from the beginning,” drama teacher Sarah Thermond said. “He was one of the only freshmen who signed up to do the play in addition to being in the drama class.”

According to Thermond, freshmen often normally only participate in plays if their friends do too, but Ganti leapt at the chance to perform. He ended up getting a lead role in the student production that year, playing Robert in “Boeing Boeing.”

In addition to his passion for drama, Ganti also enjoys classical literature, which plays a part in the drama department’s upcoming play, “Julius Caesar.”

Throughout the years, Ganti’s roles have revolved around stern, serious characters, such as Mr. Sycamore in the 2017 fall play “You Can’t Take it With You” and Mr. Banks in the 2018 spring musical “Mary Poppins,” both of whom were overbearing, weary fathers.

But this year, although he was prepared to play the role of Marc Antony, yet another stern character, Ganti landed the lead role of Brutus, an empathetic man who experiences much internal turmoil throughout the play as he tries to come to terms with his part in Caesar’s death.

“I played [Antony] much as I had other characters, because that’s who he is: a stern military officer who’s bold and takes charge,” Ganti said. “I played him very angry, very bitter at Caesar’s death, with a deep voice and belligerent tones.”

“But with Brutus, I changed him completely,” he said. “When I was talking with Ms. Thermond after casting, she mentioned that it was the distinction I made between how I played Brutus and how I played Antony, which helped me get the part.”

The role of Brutus came with many lines, including lengthy monologues, which Ganti is working to perfect, and the challenge of learning Shakespearean English.

“It is like a new language at times, but now, as an actor, I have a pretty good understanding of Shakespearean English,” Ganti said. “Memorizing is actually easy for me because Shakespeare writes in iambic pentameter, which has a rhythm to it, so if the lines don’t add up and you’re missing a syllable, then you know you’re doing it wrong.”

While acting, Ganti said he likes to put some of himself into his character and truly experience their world.

“We as people are complex; we’re not one-dimensional,” he said. “So with characters like Mr. Banks and Mr. Kirby, there’s a more serious, focused aspect. But with Brutus, it’s completely the opposite. He’s a very kind, empathetic, more softer, gentler person.”

By the end of his senior year, Ganti will have participated in 11 productions, plus a student production he will be directing in March. Auditions for his production are set to take place in November.

“Julius Caesar” will open on Nov. 10, with additional shows on Nov. 11, 16 and 17.

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