Antony and Cleopatra is a play I think I will direct every 15 years (Why this play? I have several reasons). I can’t help but be fascinated by a story of a woman who burns too bright. I directed it for the first time as a 20-year-old at Hiram College Theater. My mentor told me it was a great example of “reach exceeding grasp,” which was a kind way to put it.
A decade-and-a-half later, I had another chance to reach for this incredible, ungraspable play. Maybe I managed to hold more of it as it spilled everywhere.
I have so much admiration for Katherine Mayberry, who created a Cleopatra with truly infinite variety. I asked the question, “What if we take literally all the times when people talk about Cleopatra bewitching them?” Our Antony, Scott Lange (who was also our music director) took that question seriously—he was utterly enchanted with her when they were together, and then the spell broke when they were apart. Even Augustus (Riley van Ess), when he finally met her, was not immune to Cleopatra’s art. Enobarbus (Kat Hermes) was the only person who didn’t fall under her spell.
She charmed audiences, as well, garnering a glowing review and a Wilde Award nomination.
My collaborators at Pigeon Creek Shakespeare are brilliant and they give me so much space to explore. This was a production where I could feel how our investment in our work together, in our specific communication with each other, paid off in a big way. Our whole team, including the designers, had a clear, shared vision that felt almost like mind-reading.
This production with them was one of the most joyful I’ve ever done. Remounting it at the Rose was a literal dream come true; I have rarely seen a production fulfill my vision on every point.