Antony and Cleopatra
Directed by Lesley Schisgall Currier
This is undoubtedly one of the most challenging of Shakespeare's plays to stage. It frightens designers who feel they need to compete with Hollywood versions of Cleopatra's exotic world, actors who have to embody iconic larger-than-life characters, and directors who have to wrestle Shakespeare's unwieldy script into a stageable story. I adored cutting and shaping the script. A full 24% of the lines were snipped, leaving a (mere) two hour and forty-five minutes of glorious verbiage. I decided to just see what would happen if the scenes were played quickly and without any attempt to fill in the missing bits -- the climactic Battle of Actium, for example, which happens offstage in only a few seconds.
And, somehow, it worked.
Of course our fabulous cast is mainly to be credited. What a joy to work with my long-time friend and brilliant actress Marcia Pizzo, and to bring smart, handsome, hardworking Marvin Greene back to the Forest Meadows stage after a 13 year absence. These two headlined a solid cast that reveled in detailed script work, imaginative staging ideas, and finding all the emotion in this passionate piece of great theatre.
The first audience was a revelation. Sitting in the crowd, I realized that most people in attendance, while they knew the basic story, did not know Shakespeare's play. Each soap operaish plot twist and turn elicited gasps of surprise. It was like finding a lost Shakespeare masterpiece and staging it for the first time. After all, the play had not been seen in Marin County for over 40 years.
One of my favorite memories is of the white owl that began attending rehearsals and performances. Another is Costume Designer Abra Berman's glee at creating a peacock-feather skirt for Cleopatra, and gold and silver armor out of plastic trays. The ad libs during the party on the Roman galleon occasionally could be heard -- hilariously -- by me during rehearsals. And Darren Bridgett, alternating as a mostly naked servant and a leopard-wrapped soothsayer kept everyone laughing backstage even while tragedy reigned in front of the backdrop.
And then there were the challenges. Lifting Antony's body -- which I knew we could do, but which turned my stomache every time I saw it. And our long-suffering, scantily-clad Egyptian ladies who suffered through an historic cold-spell of rehearsals in supposedly heat-drenched Egpyt.
Thanks to everyone who came along for this rare and glorious ride. It was a privilege and a pleasure.
-- Lesley Schisgall Currier
Cleopatra, Queen of Egypt - Marcia Pizzo*
Charmian, her lady - Alexandra Matthew*
Iras, her lady - Lori Dorfman
Mardian, her eunuch - Gary Grossman
Her Soothsayer - Darren Bridgett*
Eurphronius, her schoolmaster - Scott Ragle
Seleucus, her treasuer - Lucas McClure*
Ladies - Artemis Bell, Victoria Lee Williams
A rural fellow, bearing figs - Julian Lopez-Morillas*
The Triumvirate, Rulers of the Roman Empire
Mark Antony - Marvin Greene*
Octavius Caesar - William Elsman*
Lepidus - Julian Lopez-Morillas*
Challengers to the Triumvirate
Pompey, son of Pompey the Great - Matt Franta
Menas, his sea captain - Scott Ragle
Varrius, his sea captain - Amber Templeton
Octavia, sister to Octavius Caesar - Cat Thompson*
Maecenas, loyal to Caesar - Christopher Hammond
Dolabella, loyal to Caesar - Matt Franta
Proculeius, loyal to Caesar - Bennnett Fisher
Enobarbus, loyal to Antony - Stephen Klum*
Eros, loyal to Antony - Sam Leichter
Scarus, loyal to Antony - Lucas McClure*
Alexas, loyal to Antony - Paul Loomis
A Messenger - Darren Bridgett*
Dercetus, a soldier - Paul Loomis
Soldiers and Servants - Jasper Hirose , Crystal Munoz-Tesch
Jessica Orr, Amber Templeton
A Singer - Crystal Munoz-Tesch
Director - Lesley Schisgall Currier
Producer - Lesley Schisgall Currier
Composer / Sound - Designer Billie Cox
Costume Design - Abra Bermann
Fight Director - Richard Lane
Lighting Design - Ellen Brooks
Props Design - Joel and Toni Eis
Set Design - Mark Robinson
Stage Manager - Becky Saunders*
Assistant Stage Manager - Callie Rose McGreen
Member of Actor's Equity Association