What a gift to be able to help bring to life this gorgeous and rarely-performed masterpiece!
There are several reasons this play is seldom staged. The action ranges from Rome to Alexandria, with epic battles, legions of soldiers, and all the extravagance and opulence of Cleopatra’s Egypt.
When produced, there is a strong temptation to stage these stunning scenes – which is why the play has inspired expensive theatrical designs and elaborate, excessive films.
The language of the play is at times exotic, as if Shakespeare were creating an Egyptian idiom. And the characters are legendary, larger-than-life, with a daunting amount of passion, intelligence, and variety.
You will not be seeing a Hollywood film version of the play tonight. We have chosen to play the story on a mostly bare stage, and to trust that Shakespeare’s words will evoke the glory of Rome and the glamor of Egypt.
And you will hear some of the most beautiful words Shakespeare ever conceived. My personal favorites are “garboils” which onomatopoetically means something like garbled turmoils and well describes almost any political situation of note including the ones in this play, and a word used by both Antony and Cleopatra that appears in no other Shakespeare play, “discandying,” which is something sweet like life and love or honor and glory melting away, like a lump of sugar in the rain.