Shakespeare's Antony and Cleopatra: UNDONE

Shakespeare Lover Shawna Tucker (Cleopatra, Co-Author) told some of us in February about an audacious production she was working on: A & C using only FOUR ACTORS. You've seen Burton and Taylor on the silver screen. Glorious,  eh? Did you recall the text? "Naught...naught...naught!" How about Charlton Heston's version? Did Cleo ever call for her mandragora so listless as did Janet Suzman in Trevor Nunn's production? Well, get ready for some LIVE theater! I'm going to the $5 preview on Sept 5th. We may get a talk back from the cast afterward on the 20th. Let's get a bunch of us in there - there's only 35 seats to the theater space!  

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  • Shawna M.

    Between you and me and everyone on this post - I appreciate a slower, more "let's feast" type of delivery. I worked with a director who trained (at least in part) in England, and he said that there he learned to breathe fewer times during a speech and to get the words out faster. I didn't find his technique effective.

    September 23

    • Paul G.

      Strings of single syllables marking heightened moments, and other text and speaking techniques help structure the ears, even of groundlings like me. [Just now, thinking for example of "Come, woo me, woo me, for now I am in a holiday humour and like enough to consent" (4.1AYLI) that cheers us all up, after the windy arguments with Orlando.]

      September 24

    • Shawna M.

      I agree. I've long felt that single syllable strings should be slowed down because the single syllables indicate something VERY important is being communicated. Minor example "I do not like 'but yet, fie upon 'but yet."

      September 24

  • vincent l.

    Hey, I have been dense for years...I did not notice an accent, either...The English actors I have enjoyed are usually vastly better in acting than the staples at Shakes Rep.. It seemed to me he was forced to try to say so much so fast for my ancient ears I was unable to enjoy the delicious feast of the Bards words and this forced him to be somewhat abrupt in his acting skills as well

    1 · September 23

  • Shawna M.

    Not than I'm complaining about an actor who has an English accent, but of course that makes it more difficult to acclimate the dense poetry if one hails from Chicago. We could have asked him to put on an American accent, but in my experience, most Shakespeare productions allow the natural dialect of the actor cast. I've got a LONG story about how we came to cast Antony (another actor who had been cast almost a year before had to back out), but even though I knew the English accent would be harder for most ears here, he was THE best actor for the part and so we went with it. But Vincent, you aren't the only one who has noted the speed with which he speaks, and I DO think it is an English actor thing. (For better or for worse - some people like his performance the best and note his accent makes the poetry more beautiful.)

    1 · September 23

  • vincent l.

    it was ok...quite a bit boiled down...had trouble with the male lead talking so fast it was hard for me to follow....

    September 23

  • Shawna M.

    That's REALLY interesting - the quality of the love between the two was not something that anyone else has brought up during the development of the script. I appreciate you and Vincent addressing it. And yes, oh, yes, there is always more to Shakespeare. As we were crafting this, my co-adapter and I couldn't believe how no matter what we did with the text, the artistry of the author kept reasserting itself. Thank you so much for coming and sharing your thoughts!

    September 23

  • Paul G.

    Four characters did the Immortal Pair justice. And yes, I think Cleopatra - yours and the text's - loved purer than Antony, what with all his stray "Roman thoughts" clogging the radar! But he kept returning.
    Interesting however, during her "give me mine angle...Ah ha! you're caught" scene, that she seemed more angry than the next, "Ah, times!" yearning.
    What a great story! What a play! And great job "bringing it"!!!

    2 · September 22

    • Shawna M.

      Thanks, Paul! I'm so happy that audiences have been responding to the adaptation. Both Shakespeare fans and people who don't know him all that well. Since you know the play, you know that I rearranged the "Give me my angle" speech from before she knew about Antony's betrayal. So it became a little more "loaded" with emotion - and a bit more complex, I hoped!

      1 · September 22

    • Paul G.

      Looking through my notes this morning I noticed, and realized that having thoroughly read and thought about the play one year doesn't mean I caught how you rearranged the play this year - thankfully - there's always more to Shakespeare!

      September 23

  • Shawna M.

    Ah! Well, comments about the acting are totally fair game! Cast of 12 - whew - I'm just thinking about the dressing room containing that many people!

    September 22

  • vincent l.

    I was talking about the acting..anyway...saw the group that is doing Macbeth there next doing a Shaw "unbound" at Chief O'Niells ..well done....the director said they have a cast of twelve for that production on Jarvis

    September 22

  • Shawna M.

    That is an interesting viewpoint, Vincent! Makes me wonder if there are some literary papers about just that subject.

    September 21

  • vincent l.

    A nice time..She was definitely more in love with Anthony than he was with her

    September 21

  • Shawna M.

    Thanks so much for coming! From about the 1950s on the tradition for both Antony and Cleo has been for older couples to take on the role to underscore that their stars are waning. During the Victorian era the part was taken by younger, more celebrity status actresses like Lily Langtry, famous for her beauty and not her acting ability. One of the more successful productions that I've read about was in 1987 with Judi Dench, who, when they approached her for the part, stated, "You want Cleopatra to be a menopausal dwarf?" There have also been productions with a Cleopatra of color - which underscores her "different-ness" from the Romans. There definitely can be variations on stage. In the movies... not so much!

    September 21

  • Laurel G.

    I really enjoyed A&C tonight. In the post-play discussion, Shawna, you mentioned that Cleopatra traditionally has been played by younger women. But your production lends her more poignancy, I think, because a younger woman would probably have a stronger desire to survive. An older Cleopatra has an established worldview, and once that is shattered she can't re-invent herself. All in all, a lovely production!

    1 · September 21

  • Ceilia A.

    Hey all! So sorry but I think I caught the same bug that's been going around. Rather than get everyone sick, I'll try to make it to the next one! Have fun, and looking forward to meeting you guys next time.

    September 20

  • vincent l.

    tried calling their number....maybe I will be at the Irish bar wondering if they are across the street..I won't be in a Hawaiian shirt

    September 20

  • Shawna M.

    You are a man after my own fashion sense. I am almost always in Hawaiian shirts in the summertime... wish I could meet you all before the show, but REALLY looking forward to the talkback!

    September 20

  • Paul G.

    I'm wearing black and a black-background, flowered Hawaiian shirt. See you in the lobby around 7:40. Before that I may be having a Guinness across the street at the Irish pub.

    1 · September 20

  • Katy

    The week got away with me, so I'll be tying up loose ends this weekend-- hope to be able to make it next time!

    September 19

  • Shawna M.

    Got special services to help, and the code SHOULD be working now!

    September 17

  • Paul G.

    Wow! We'll be quite a lot of the entire audience!

    September 17

  • vincent l.

    Thanks Shawna...looking forward to seeing you there!

    September 17

  • Shawna M.

    Perplexed that the code isn't working - the password is NILE. Vincent, I will contact the ticket people to check out why it isn't working. If they can't get it working by the end of the day tomorrow, contact me via this bulletin board and I will arrange to have tickets held for you at the special price.

    September 17

  • vincent l.

    TRIED BUYING TICKETS with code...did not happen..wonder what would happen if I just showed up...

    September 16

  • Shawna M.

    I would recommend getting tickets ahead of time. This is just because there are such a small number of seats available at the theater.

    September 13

    • Paul G.

      Thanks for this good reminder, Shawna.

      September 14

  • Laurel G.

    I'm confused--do we need to purchase tickets ahead of time?
    I can't do dinner this time around, but another time would be nice.

    September 13

  • Paul G.

    Luzzat, a hole in the wall Pakistani diner at 1505 W. Jarvis. Cheap. Needs up to an hour, it seems, to get a dinner tabled, but it's virtually right next door. 5 PM, anyone?

    September 13

  • Paul G.

    FYI: Sept 11, Thursday 7 PM is a $7.50 Richard III at the Athenaeum Theater Studio Three. Two more tix at this price for this show. other dates avail. (I have Friday off, so went for the Thur date)
    http://www.goldstar.com/events/chicago-il/richard-iii-3

    September 9

    • Paul G.

      I recommend this one. It's a Richard III as Falstaff. Tasty slime! Stage reflects the polluted landscape and mindscape that allows a Richard III to ascend. Very relevant. Elizabeth is a notable. Multiple roles used with some characters. The Lord Mayor's face will crack you up.

      September 13

  • Shawna M.

    Paul! I missed you after the performance! PLEASE do stick around when you come the 20th - I would absolutely love to do a callback with the Shakespeare Lovers' Group!

    1 · September 8

    • Paul G.

      Will do! Talking to one of the preview patrons there who saw many A & C productions, and is in the theater himself, said this one stands up quite well against them all, and impressed him. I knew we'd talk more on the 20th. Much success with the show!

      September 8

    • Shawna M.

      I know who you spoke to! Love that guy - and he was very enthused about the production, which made me very happy!

      September 8

  • Paul G.

    Saw the Preview last night and am so excited that a batch of us are planning to meet there in two weeks!
    80 minutes of a four-person cast (perfectly cast!) who speak most lines pertinent to A & C, all - it seems - when the Principles are together. The fourth character, "Player" is key to filling in narrative, which requires lines moved, elided, but never dishonored. The original play is really there! Bravo, Shawna and cast! The theater is small - perfect for this. An Irish bar is caty-corner on Jarvis. (Actually, a pet shop called "Rogers Bark" - cute name - is on the theater's corner - The Side Project Theater is a couple doors East.) An Indian food restaurant is a block west. Who wants to meet before the play for a bite, after for a drink?

    September 7

  • Katy

    Hoping I can make it; still have some scheduling to sort out.

    September 6

  • Shawna M.

    Hey, folks! Get a $10 ticket on the 20th using the code CYDNUS at http://www.brownpapertickets.com/event/782161

    1 · August 30, 2014

  • Veronica

    I'm excited to attend.

    August 25, 2014

  • Shawna M.

    Well... in our version you spend more time with them, anyway! I will be eager to hear your views after you see it. DO share!

    1 · August 17, 2014

  • Shawna M.

    It is, indeed, a magnificent play. Be forewarned that my co-writer and I have distilled it down to the central conflict between Antony and Octavius, and we've rearranged the language around. If you know A&C well, it might be a bit disorienting! But I will be very eager to hear what you think of the play - especially if you do know Shakespeare's original well. By the by, I wrote a post about Heston's version (which is by no means spectacular, but there are some good things about it and I applaud his gumption getting it made) on the Skyline StageWorks website. http://www.skylinestageworks.org/the-film-i-cared-about-more-than-any-ive-ever-made-was-a-failure/

    August 16, 2014

  • Paul G.

    Some scene-for-scene summary and commentary I wrote up last year on A & C. I was quite impressed with the play, and still am. This is posted on fasebook.

    https://www.facebook.com/groups/459174204139611/619234708133559/

    August 16, 2014

  • Paul G.

    http://www.brownpapertickets.com/event/782161
    To buy your ticket(s). Shawna helps us get a discount on Sept 20th performance.

    August 12, 2014

  • Shawna M.

    Hey folks - if you choose Sept 20th, use the code "NILE" for $10 tickets!

    1 · August 11, 2014

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