Midway through the run of Too Heavy for your Pocket, we’re going backstage to get to know the four actors who are embodying the show’s undeniably courageous characters. Be sure to also read our first three interviews with Jennifer Latimore, Ayanna Bria Bakari, and Jalen Gilbert. Our fourth and final interview is with Cage Sebastian Pierre, who portrays Tony Carter, Sally-Mae Carter’s husband and Bowzie Brandon’s best friend.
Tell us the story of when you first knew you wanted to become an actor.
I started out, three years old as a Sugar Plum Fairy helper in a community production of The Nutcracker. From there I just kept at it until I found myself in university for acting. Once I was there, I had a professor, Dominic Taylor, who showed me that theatre can be whatever I wanted it to be. He showed me plays with talking heads and absurd made-up languages. From there, I knew that the stage and acting was were I could bridge the gap between the world and my creativity.
What excites you about the world of this play / this character?
What’s most exciting about the world of this play is that these characters, or rather who they represent, are responsible for the liberties I afford today. It’s as if I’m hopping back in time to walk the shoes of my grandparents and get to share in their joys, mistakes, defeats, and overcomings that I may appreciate more my own. It’s a joy, a pleasure, a gift, and a necessity to celebrate my history in this way. Specifically about the character, Tony is exciting to play because he is such a jokester. He’s full of joy, and constructive energy, and so much love. He also is filled with much turmoil and regret. It’s exciting, though difficult to tackle a character having, every day, to reconcile his past with his envisioned future.
Tell us about how the rehearsal process was. What’s it like working with this cast / team?
THE PROCESS HAS BEEN FIRE! Fire meaning, dope. And dope meaning really really really great. Ron OJ is an incredible director who thrives in specificity, hard work, play, and revelry. He is in the trenches with us, figuring out what it all means. And his assistant Amb’Ber is right there next to him. On top of that, we have an amazing team who are doing all they can to make this process magic. It’s been great.
“I hope they’ll walk away asking themselves, ‘what is the price of their own humanity? What does it cost other humans for me to enjoy comfort? Who suffers for my success?'” — Cage Sebastian Pierre
What has been your favorite moment working on this production so far?
My favorite moment … hard to say. There are so many. But if I ABSOLUTELY had to pick. I would say it’s when we all went to church. It was the moment that I knew I was a part of something higher and was a part of a group of people dedicated to excellence. We weren’t as close then as we are now, but it was maybe the catalyst that said, “We’re in this together.”
What do you hope the audience takes away after seeing this show?
Lots of things. I hope they’ll reinvest in the value of friendship, partnership, and community. I hope they’ll support theatre, specifically Black theatre. I hope they ask, “Who are the Freedom Riders. I’d like to know more about them.” But most of all, I hope they’ll walk away asking themselves, “What is the price of their own humanity? What does it cost other humans for me to enjoy comfort? Who suffers for my success?” I hope that they look around and instead of only asking “Who’s here?,” they ask “Who’s not?”
Too Heavy for Your Pocket explores the personal costs of progress, and the conflict between where you come from and what you’re called to. Is this something that resonates in your life?
Yes! Most artists weren’t begotten by artists. Being an artist is such a privilege and my parents made sacrifices so that I could be an artist. Many could have looked at this as an abandonment to the progression of our family or community because I didn’t pursue a more traditionally lucrative career. However, when I understand that what I’m doing by acting serves others and myself in ways that money falls short, I know that there are little other choices.