study guide Kate mulgrew John douglas thompson in William Shakespeare’s
Antony & Cleopatra
Hartford Stage’s production is part of Shakespeare for a New Generation, a national program of the National Endowment for the Arts in cooperation with Arts Midwest. Hartford Stage Education Programs are supported by: Major Sponsors: Allied World Assurance Company Anonymous Beatrice Fox Auerbach Foundation Fund at the Hartford Foundation for Public Giving, as recommended by Linda and David Glickstein Ensworth Charitable Foundation Greater Hartford Arts Council Lincoln Financial Foundation SBM Charitable Foundation, Inc. Travelers Foundation Supporting Sponsors: Barnes Foundation, Inc. Elizabeth Carse Foundation Citizens Bank Enterprise Holdings Foundation Ellen Jeanne Goldfarb Memorial Charitable Trust Mr. & Mrs. William Foulds Family Foundation Greater Hartford Automobile Dealers Association Hartford Wolf Pack Community Foundation, Inc. Aaron Hollander and Simon Hollander Funds Kaman Corporation LEGO Children’s Fund NewAlliance Foundation Charles Nelson Robinson Fund TD Charitable Foundation
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Study Guide Objectives Hartford Stage provides study guides to schools attending the Student Performance Series free of charge. This study guide serves as a classroom tool for teachers and students, and will address the following Connecticut state learning standards for grades K-12: English Language Arts 2.4: Exploring and Responding to Literature. Students recognize that readers and authors are influenced by individual, social, cultural, and historical contexts. Theatre 5: Researching and Interpreting. Students will research, evaluate and apply cultural and historical information to make artistic choices. 6: Connections. Students will make connections between theatre, other disciplines and daily life. 7: Analysis, Criticism and Meaning. Students will analyze, critique and construct meanings from works of theatre.
Guidelines for Attending the Theatre Attending live theatre is a unique experience with many valuable educational and social benefits. To ensure that all audience members are able to enjoy the performance, please take a few minutes to discuss the following audience etiquette topics with your students before you come to Hartford Stage. • How is attending the theatre similar to and different from going to the movies? What behaviors are and are not appropriate when seeing a play? Why? • Remind students that because the performance is live, the audience can affect what kind of performance the actors give. No two audiences are exactly the same and no two performances are exactly the same—this is part of what makes theatre so special! Students’ behavior should reflect the level of performance they wish to see. • Theatre should be an enjoyable experience for the audience. It is absolutely all right to applaud when appropriate and laugh at the funny moments (Yes, it’s true! Shakespeare can be funny!). Talking and calling out during the performance, however, are not allowed. Why might this be? (Be sure to mention that not only would the people seated around them be able to hear their conversation, but the actors on stage could hear them, too. Theatres are constructed to carry sound efficiently!) • Any noise or light can be a distraction, so please remind students to make sure their cell phones are turned off (or better yet, left at home or at school!). Texting, photography and video recording are prohibited. Food and gum should not be taken into the theatre. • Students should sit with their group as seated by the Front of House staff and should not leave their seats once the performance has begun. If possible, restrooms should be used only during intermission.
Characters The Triumvirs: Rulers of the Roman World
Cleopatra and Her Court
Mark Antony, a once respected soldier who rules the eastern Roman Empire. He lives in Egypt and carries on a public love affair with Cleopatra. His focus is split between Rome and Egypt, which weakens him in others’ eyes.
Cleopatra, Queen of Egypt. Antony’s lover and mother to his children, she also has a child by the murdered Julius Caesar. Cleopatra is highly dramatic and her emotions are intense, passionate, and ever-changing. She appears to love Antony even though her loyalty seems to waver at times.
Octavius Caesar, nephew and adopted son of Julius Caesar. The friendship between Caesar and Antony stretches to a breaking point in the play because Caesar believes Antony neglects his responsibilities while in Egypt. He hopes to become sole ruler of the Roman Empire. M. Aemilius Lepidus, the weakest member of the Triumvirate, politically and personally. He tries to keep the peace between Antony and Caesar, but is imprisoned by Caesar after Pompey’s defeat.
Followers of Mark Antony Domitius Enobarbus, Antony’s most loyal supporter. He is friendly with Pompey and Caesar as well, but stays loyal to Antony despire his belief that Antony is making terrible political and military decisions. He is worldly, sarcastic, and full of common sense, which Antony fails to heed. Eros, Scarus, friends of Antony and soldiers in his army. Camidius, Lieutenant-General to Antony. After the Battle at Actium, in which Antony follows Cleopatra’s lead and runs, Camidius surrenders and defers to Caesar’s wishes.
Alexas, Charmain, Iras, Cleopatra’s attendants. Mardian, a eunuch. The Soothsayer, a fortune-teller who predicts that Antony will always be second to Caesar. A Country Man, who brings Cleopatra poisonous snakes hidden in a basket.
Followers of Octavius Caesar Agrippa, Thidias, Proculeius, Caesar’s officers and soldiers who fight in his name and act on his behalf. Octavia, sister to Caesar and wife to Antony. She marries Antony in the play as part of a political arrangement to keep the peace between him and Caesar. She is, in her manner, the very opposite of Cleopatra.
The Rebels Sextus Pompeius, son of the late Pompey the Great, one of Julius Caesar’s partners in power. Sextus (called Pompey) is popular with the Roman people, and has enough military strength to threaten war against the Triumvirate. He blockades Rome with his ships, keeping food from coming into the city. He agrees to a peace treaty that delays conflict and considers himself honorable for refusing to allow one of his servants to kill the Triumvirs. Menas, Varrius, soldiers of Pompey who fight in his name and attempt to dishonorably kill on his behalf.
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TIMELINE OF HISTORICAL EVENTS 60 BC—The first Triumvirate is formed, consisting of Julius Caesar, Crassus, and Gnaeus Pompey. Julius Caesar is elected consul and is given the governorship of Illycrium and Gaul. 56 BC—Renewal of the Triumvirate. 53 BC—Crassus killed in Parthia. 51 BC—18-year-old Cleopatra becomes Queen of Egypt and marries her brother, King Ptolemy XIII. 49 BC—Julius Caesar begins a civil war with Gnaeus Pompey. 48 BC—Julius Caesar defeats Gnaeus Pompey to become Emperor of Rome. Gnaeus Pompey flees to Egypt and is killed there. Cleopatra begins her affair with Julius Caesar. 47 BC—Cleopatra gives birth to Caesarion, her son with Julius Caesar. Ptolemy XIII is killed. Mark Antony marries Fulvia. 44 BC—Julius Caesar is assassinated on the Ides of March (March 15) by a group of Romans who resent Caesar’s absolute power. The conspirators are led by Cassius and Brutus. 43 BC—Mark Antony, Lepidus, and Octavius Caesar (Julius Caesar’s nephew and adopted son) are appointed
Synopsis After the assassination of Julius Caesar, the Roman Empire is ruled by a triumvirate: Octavius Caesar in the west, Mark Antony in the east, and Lepidus in Africa. While Caesar secures power in Rome, Antony stays in the Egyptian capital, Alexandria, with his love, Cleopatra, Queen of Egypt. The death of his wife, Fulvia, and the threat of a war with Pompey bring him back to Rome. There is tension between Octavius Caesar and Antony; Caesar feels that Antony has left Rome vulnerable while spending his days with Cleopatra. As a gesture of goodwill, Antony agrees to marry Caesar’s sister Octavia, but this is only a temporary solution to the tension between the two men. Cleopatra is enraged by the news of Antony’s marriage. She soon hears reports, however, that Octavia is unattractive, which reassures her that Antony will return to Egypt. Meanwhile, the Triumvirs meet with Pompey and come to an agreement to avoid a war. At a celebration of the truce, one of Pompey’s men discloses a plot to assassinate the Triumvirs, which Pompey quickly dismisses. When Antony and Octavia depart for Athens, Caesar breaks the truce and attacks Pompey with Lepidus’s help before turning on him. Antony soon learns that Caesar has been speaking publicly against him and has betrayed and imprisoned Lepidus. Octavia tries to repair the damage by going to Rome to speak with her brother. Antony seizes the opportunity during her absence to flee back to Cleopatra in Egypt. He bestows Egypt and the surrounding lands on her and her children. Caesar vows to punish Antony for dishonoring his sister and challenges Antony to battle. Cleopatra convinces Antony to accept the challenge and to face Caesar at sea; though Antony believes that his army has a better chance on land, he agrees to fight at sea. At the high point of the naval battle, Cleopatra retreats and Antony orders his ship to follow her; the battle at Actium becomes a Roman victory. Caesar rejects Antony’s request for peace, and attempts to split the couple, decreeing that Cleopatra will remain Queen of Egypt if she has Antony killed. Cleopatra refuses, and Caesar’s army meets Antony’s on land— resulting in a victory for Antony. The two armies withdraw to resume the fight the next day. Egypt retreats again and gives Caesar another victory. Antony accuses Cleopatra of treason and threatens to kill her. To protect herself, she goes to her tomb and sends her servants to bring word to Antony that she has committed suicide. Antony is devastated by the news and mortally wounds himself by falling on his own sword. As he is dying, the servants to take him to Cleopatra and the two profess their love before Antony expires. When Caesar hears of Antony’s death, he mourns the loss of his rival and former friend. He falsely promises mercy to Cleopatra while planning to humiliate her as a prisoner of war. Cleopatra recognizes his dishonesty and kills herself using the venom of a snake hidden in a fruit basket. Caesar declares that Antony and Cleopatra will be buried together as a final act of sympathy.
Triumvirs. • 42 BC—Antony defeats the forces of Brutus and Cassius, who commit suicide. Shakespeare’s plays use a mixture of blank verse, rhymed verse, and • 41 BC—Cleopatra prose. Blank verse is written in patterns of alternating stressed and meets Mark Antony unstressed syllables and the lines do not rhyme with each other. at Tarsus. They begin their affair. For Example... **Action of Shakespeare’s • Say the word “Roman” out loud. The first syllable is stressed: Antony and Cleopatra RO-man begins** • Say the word “Egyptian” out loud. The middle syllable is stressed: • 41 BC—Mark Antony e-GYP-tian spends time with Cleopatra in Egypt. Shakespeare used a variety of literary devices in his plays, including • 40 BC—Antony’s wife, personification, alliteration, simile, and metaphor. In Antony and Fulvia, dies. He returns to Rome and marries Cleopatra, he makes heavy use of hyperbole, figurative language that Caesar’s sister, Octavia employs extreme exaggeration to provoke an emotional response. The shortly after. Cleopatra following are examples of hyperbole in Antony and Cleopatra: gives birth to her children with Antony, ANTONY: Let Rome in Tiber melt, and the wide arch twins Alexander Helios Of the ranged empire fall. Here is my space. and Cleopatra Selene. Kingdoms are clay. Our dungy earth alike • 38 BC—Sextus Feeds beast as man. (I. 1) Pompeius (Pompey) challenges the CLEOPATRA: Eternity was in our lips and eyes, Triumvirate but is Bliss in our brows’ bent; none our parts so poor subdued. Antony goes But was a race of heaven. (I. 3) to Brundisium in Italy at Caesar’s request, but Caesar is not there CLEOPATRA: All’s but naught; when Antony arrives. Patience is sottish, and impatience does Antony goes to the Become a dog that’s mad. (IV. 15) eastern provinces. • 37 BC—Renewal of Shakespeare’s language contains many words that may sound foreign the Triumvirate, but to a modern audience because they are specific to Elizabethan English Lepidus is left without and have fallen out of use since that time. In total, Shakespeare used full powers. Antony 17,677 different words in his plays, sonnets, and narrative poems, 1,700 sends Octavia back to of which may have been invented by him. Some questions to ask when Italy. Cleopatra joins encountering an unfamiliar word: him in Antioch. • 36 BC—Octavius • Does this word sound like another word I know? Caesar and Lepidus • Can I look this word up in a dictionary? wage war on Pompey • Can I rearrange the sentence to give the word context? and defeat him. • Is this meant to be literal or is Shakespeare using figurative language? Is it a metaphor or simile? Personification? Lepidus demands equal • If it is figurative language, what literal thing or phenomenon does powers as a Triumvir. this image describe? Octavius Caesar defeats Lepidus and expels him 5
from the Triumvirate. Antony and Cleopatra’s third child together, Ptolemy Philadelphus, is born. • 35 BC—Mark Antony returns to Egypt with Cleopatra. • 34 BC—Mark Antony campaigns in Armenia, which is successfully annexed to Rome. Antony celebrates his victory in Egypt, grants Cleopatra and her heirs territories, and announces Caesarion is legitimate heir to Julius Caesar. • 33 BC—Legal end of the Triumvirate. Octavius Caesar challenges Antony. • 32 BC—Mark Antony divorces Octavia. Octavius Caesar has Antony’s powers annulled and declares war on Cleopatra. • 31 BC—Mark Antony and Cleopatra are defeated by Octavius Caesar at the Battle of Actium. • 30 BC—Mark Antony commits suicide. Octavius Caesar takes Cleopatra prisoner. Cleopatra commits suicide. **Action of Shakespeare’s Antony and Cleopatra ends** Egypt is under the complete control of Rome. Caesarion is executed. Caesar takes a new title, Augustus Caesar and rules as Emperor. 6
Themes for Discussion Reason vs. Emotion Throughout Antony and Cleopatra, every character faces major struggles in their decision-making processes. Each new challenge or crisis presents a choice between following thoroughly planned, well-reasoned, analytical actions or pursuing impulses driven by emotional needs and of-the-moment desires. These qualities frequently co-exist within individual characters in Shakespeare’s play, creating characters who are multidimensional and uniquely human. Cleopatra is particularly prone to vacillations between the two extremes. When a messenger arrives to inform Cleopatra that Antony will marry Caesar’s sister, Octavia, Cleopatra fluctuates from, in one moment, emotionally-driven desire to act out violently by torturing and killing the messenger, and in the next moment, the more reason-based approach of seeking more information by questioning the man who is, after all, only a messenger. Antony, too, is prone to emotional outbursts, such as when he accuses Cleopatra of deliberately weakening his political standing against Caesar in the third act. When Cleopatra’s ships flee from battle, the supposedly heroic Antony follows, leading his army to defeat. Antony claims that Cleopatra knew he would follow if she left and that it is her fault that he “must/ To the young man send humble treaties, dodge/ And palter in the shifts of lowness, who/ With half the bulk o’ th’ world played as I pleased,/ Making and marring fortunes” (III. 10). Antony accuses Cleopatra of a well-reasoned, strategy-driven plot, which stands in stark contrast to the emotion that fuels his allegation and the passionate sentiments that Cleopatra frequently expresses. Similarly, the characters’ passionate devotion to orderliness can be considered just as compulsive as their willingness to follow their changing urges. In act two, scene 7, Menas comes up with a plot to murder the Triumvirs while they are inebriated during their visit with Pompey. He grapples with the choice between following his impulses by killing them when he has the opportunity and following the proper hierarchical channels by getting Pompey’s permission before carrying out the crime. Menas picks the orderly process of following the proper channels, but attempts an emotional strategy by appealing to Pompey’s ego. Menas tries to get Pompey’s consent by swaying him to the belief that were the crime carried out, Pompey would be the most powerful man in the world. While Pompey is tempted by this proposal, his reason prevails as he tells Menas not to carry the act out and that “Being done unknown,/ I should have found it afterwards well done,/ But must Costume Designs for Roman Soldiers by condemn it now” (II. 7). Anita Yavich
Questions: • Mark Antony is depicted in history as a great hero. Based on his behavior in the play, do you think Mark Antony is a good leader? What about Cleopatra? Octavius Caesar? Pompey? What reasonable and emotional qualities do they each demonstrate in the play? How do they manipulate each other’s reasonable and emotional inclinations? Provide specific examples from the play to support your responses. • What qualities do you consider to be good leadership qualities? Do you prefer a leader driven by reason or by emotion? What are the advantages and disadvantages of each?
Public vs. Private In contemporary Western society, some political leaders work to keep their personal lives private, drawing strict guidelines for the public’s interaction with their families and the media’s access to what they say and do behind closed doors. Other public figures choose to put personal matters in the spotlight, welcoming the attention. In the world of Antony and Cleopatra, there is no separation between public and private matters. Antony and Cleopatra are heads-of-state whose personal relationships figure prominently in their political strategies, and every word and action has the potential to impact their ability to rule. Antony and Cleopatra frequently find personal solutions to political problems: Mark Antony is the second Roman leader with whom Cleopatra has had a “romantic” relationship (the other was Julius Caesar); by aligning herself with Antony, Cleopatra ensures that Egypt remains a sovereign nation unconquered by Rome. When he leaves Egypt to return to Rome after his wife’s death, Mark Antony calms Cleopatra’s anger by sending her a message that “To mend the petty present, [he] will piece/ Her opulent throne with kingdoms. All the East . . . shall call her mistress,” thus using a political solution to a personal problem (I. 5). Next, Antony forms a weak alliance with Octavius Caesar that is based entirely on Antony’s marriage to Caesar’s sister, Octavia, and serves to keep the peace among the Triumvirs governing Rome. While Antony and Cleopatra find at least temporary success using this strategy, their private
actions also lead to negative perceptions of their public personas. Mark Antony’s image in particular takes many blows in the course of the play. As a result of his spending so much time pursuing personal pleasures in Egypt, Antony’s men begin to doubt his ability to lead them, seeing “in him/ The triple pillar of the world transform’d/ Into a strumpet’s fool”(I. 1). The other Triumvirs’ opinions of Antony’s leadership are also tainted by his private actions. When Caesar confronts Antony in act two, scene two, about his reasons for being away in Egypt for so long, Antony balks, claiming that it is none of Caesar’s concern. However, he hesitantly admits that at times he has engaged in private behavior unbecoming of his public status, as he admits to speaking disrespectfully to one of Caesar’s messengers because he was drunk. Throughout the majority of the play, Mark Antony and Cleopatra are surrounded by attendants, soldiers, and other onlookers, so there is almost always a public audience for their private words and actions. They share a brief private moment together in act four, scene twelve. After Antony sees Cleopatra’s fleet surrender to Caesar, he is enraged and, full of regret over following her blindly for so long, tells her she should die for her treachery. In this one private moment when they are not being watched, Antony unleashes his rage toward Cleopatra, while in public he portrays devotion. In act one, scene one, Philo and Demetrius comment on Antony’s public persona, observing that when he behaves in that way, Antony is not being true to himself. Philo in particular believes that “sometimes when he is not Antony/ He comes too short of that great property/ Which still should go with Antony” (I. 1).
Questions: • Do Antony’s and Cleopatra’s behaviors towards each other reflect genuine love or are they performing love for the benefit of the others in the room? How much of their relationship do you think is based in honest affection and how much in drives for political gain? Do Antony and Cleopatra ever show their true selves? Provide specific examples from the play to support your responses. • Why might a contemporary public figure want to keep their personal matters involving their family and friends private? What reasons might 7
a public figure have for bringing public attention to a personal issue or situation? Can you think of any recent examples of a politician’s private matters becoming public? How did the parties involved react to the publicity? What impact did private affairs have on the public perception of the people involved? How much does a political leader’s behavior in their personal life impact your opinion of their ability to do their public work?
Western Perceptions of the East Just as East and West are opposite geographic directions, Eastern and Western civilizations have been viewed throughout history as cultural opposites. In Antony and Cleopatra, the characters from Rome and Egypt observe each other with intense curiosity, and are quick to make judgments about each other’s society as a whole. In Shakespeare’s play, Rome is a place marked by excessive control, efficiency, and austerity, while Egypt is excessive in the complete opposite, characterized by comfort, sensuality, and leisure. The Roman characters in the play constantly refer to Egypt’s opulence, citing frequent celebrations full of feasting and drinking. In act two, scene two, Antony’s lieutenant, Enobarbus, recounts his time in Egypt saying that he and the other men “did sleep day out of countenance and/ made the night light with drinking,” and confirms the rumor that they’d once eaten “eight wild boars roasted whole at breakfast—and/ but twelve persons there.” Enobarbus goes on to describe the ostentatious spectacle of Cleopatra and her court: The barge she sat in, like a burnished throne, Burned on the water. The poop was beaten gold, Purple the sails, and so perfumèd that The winds were lovesick with them. The oars were silver, Which to the tune of flutes kept stroke, and made The water which they beat to follow faster, As amorous of their strokes. For her own person, It beggared all description: she did lie In her pavilion—cloth-of-gold, of tissue— O’erpicturing that Venus where we see The fancy outwork nature. On each side her Stood pretty dimpled boys, like smiling Cupids, With divers-colored fans, whose wind did seem To glow the delicate cheeks which they did cool, And what they undid did. (II. 2)
Egypt’s impact on Mark Antony’s demeanor is 8
notable; the Romans characterize it as a place that makes men forget themselves. Enobarbus states in act one, scene one, that since Antony began his involvement with Cleopatra, he “reneges all temper/ And is become the bellows and the fan/ To cool a gypsy’s lust.” Rome, on the other hand, is represented as ascetic and severe, with a seriousness that permeates the temperament and conduct of the people who live under its rule. Cleopatra asserts that “a Roman thought hath struck” Antony when he abruptly shifts from a joyful mood to a more sober one (I. 2). Antony’s physical return to Rome in act two further prompts a mental return to prudence. He admits to Pompey that Egypt is uniquely alluring, saying that “The beds i’ th’ East are soft, and thanks to you,/ That called me timelier than my purpose hither,/ For I have gained by ‘t” (II. 6). In act two, scene seven, Antony makes further comparison between Egyptian and Roman celebrations, describing Pompey’s feast, ostentatious by Roman standards, as “not yet an Alexandrian feast.”
Questions: • In what ways do the Romans’ and Egyptians’ perceptions of each other’s culture impact their communication? What challenges and advantages do these perceptions present to each side? Do you think these cultural perceptions make Antony and Cleopatra more or less attractive to each other both politically and romantically? Provide specific examples from the text to support your responses. • Contemporary Western civilization grew directly from the Roman empire. What evidence of Roman influence can you see in our culture today? What are the major contrasts between Western and Eastern culture in the 21st century? What perceptions do those in the West have of Eastern lifestyle? What can you infer about Eastern attitudes towards lifestyles in the West? How are these inferences similar to or different from what the Romans and Egyptians believe about each other in Antony and Cleopatra?
Further Exploration Shakespeare’s Most Modern Play
Written during 1606-1607 and first performed in 1608, Antony and Cleopatra was, for many years, one of Shakespeare more rarely produced plays, with only a handful of productions taking place in its first two hundred years. It came into vogue briefly in the Victorian era when its exotic settings were attractive to opulent sensibilities, but as theatrical emphases shifted from spectacle to plot and character, it entered another period of dormancy. The play has gained popularity in recent years, with more productions taking place this year than in the first 150 years of its existence. Sometimes called Shakespeare’s most modern play, today’s theatre artists and audiences seem to be embracing Antony and Cleopatra with ever increasing frequency. Why does it resonate so strongly in the 21st century?
Scene Structure Antony and Cleopatra has been adapted for film or television five times and is increasingly being produced at professional theatres around the world, with recent productions at the Nuffield Theatre, Liverpool Playhouse, and the Royal Shakespeare Company. Two of the major reasons why it lends itself Costume Design for Octavius so well to adaptation and contemporary production may be its many short Caesar by Anita Yavich scenes and shifts of location. Antony and Cleopatra has forty-two scenes, some less than thirty seconds long. The settings jump from Alexandria, Egypt, in one scene to Rome in the next, pushing the story to move at a rapid, almost cinematic pace, and allowing for months of realtime to pass in just a few seconds. With these abrupt shifts of time and place, a three hour play is able to depict eleven years of historical events. As a result, the stakes in every situation are higher and the intensity of each moment builds with staggering speed.
Questions: • Can you think of any contemporary media that use short scenes or clips to tell a story? Why do you think this format is successful today? What challenges do writers encounter when structuring their work in this way? What advantages does this format have in terms of hooking a contemporary audience?
Roman Soldiers 9
Characterization of Cleopatra Shakespeare’s depiction of Cleopatra, one of the most famous monarchs in history, can also be seen as one of the more “modern” elements of the play. She is famous throughout the ancient world more for her romantic entanglements with great men than for any political or military accomplishments of her own. Though technically the leader of her country, she seems more focused on merriment than on diplomatic matters. Cleopatra is a consummate performer who knows that she is being watched at all times by both friendly and unfriendly eyes. She is a frequent subject of rumor and gossip, and her public appearances, such as the one described in act two, scene two, are well-attended by curious admirers. She is accompanied everywhere she goes by an entourage of attendants (represented by Charmain, Iras, and Alexas in the play) who see to it that she is always well-coifed, well-informed, and thoroughly entertained. Prone to emotional outbursts, Cleopatra incorporates them into her image, playing them off as part of her charm. She has keen awareness of her public image and how she can use it to her advantage. As a result, the role of Cleopatra is often considered one of Shakespeare’s most challenging.
Questions: • Does the depiction of Cleopatra in Antony and Cleopatra call to mind any contemporary celebrities? Why are these people famous? Why is society interested in their lives? If Cleopatra was living today, what aspect of her life would be most interesting to you? Would you want to read about her online or see pictures of her in your favorite magazines? Why or why not?
Costume Designs for Cleopatra and her attendants, Charmain and Iras, by Anita Yavich.
Learning Assessments ACTING Everyday Shakespeare Help students become more at ease with Shakespeare’s language by applying iambic pentameter to everyday statements and questions. A line of iambic pentameter has ten syllables that can be broken into five pairs of unstressed and stressed syllables in the following pattern: Ta-DUM ta-DUM ta-DUM ta-DUM ta-DUM Students sit in a circle and hold a conversation by passing sentences around that follow the rhythmic pattern of iambic pentameter. For example: A: May I please have another piece of pie? B: Of course. You did not have to ask for it. C: I’ll get the coffee ready while I’m up. D: Please don’t forget the sugar and the cream. And so on. As the exercise continues, students will become more accustomed to the rhythm of the language and will develop greater comfort with reading plays written in verse.
Tone—Public and Private Given Circumstances In Antony and Cleopatra, the characters are frequently in situations where they have to be conscious of how what they say and do can impact their public image. In theatre, the most basic elements of any scene are called Given Circumstances. The Given Circumstances serve as the starting point of any actor’s work and consist of the 5 Ws: who, what, where, when, and why. Ask students to select one of the following publicly spoken monologues from the play and answer the following questions about their character’s Given Circumstances and tone. Be as specific as possible. 1. Who is my character? Who else is present in this scene? 2. What is my character’s objective in this scene (what does he or she want)? What is my character doing to achieve this objective? 3. Where does the scene take place? 4. When does the scene take place? (Be specific in regard to the year, time of day, etc.) 5. Why is my character pursuing his or her objective? 6. How would I describe the tone my character is using? Does my character’s tone change throughout the monologue or does it stay the same? (Use a dictionary if needed.) Next, ask students to think about how their character’s tone might be different if the monologue was a soliloquy (speech made to oneself) or being spoken in the presence of only one trusted person. Students should answer the above questions a second time but with a new set of imaginary, private Given Circumstances. Ask volunteers to read their monologues with each set of given circumstances and tone choices. • How did the performance change? • What does this change imply about the characters’ communication in the play? 11
Monologues: CLEOPATRA (Act IV, Scene 15) No more but e’en a woman, and commanded By such poor passion as the maid that milks And does the meanest chares. It were for me To throw my scepter at the injurious gods, To tell them that this world did equal theirs Till they had stolen our jewel. All’s but naught. Patience is sottish, and impatience does Become a dog that’s mad. Then is it sin To rush into the secret house of death Ere death dare come to us? How do you, women? What, what, good cheer! Why, how now, Charmain? My noble girls! Ah, women, women. Look, Our lamp is spent, it’s out. Good sirs, take heart. We’ll bury him, and then, what’s brave, what’s noble, Let’s do’t after the high Roman fashion And make death proud to take us. Come, away. This case of that huge spirit now is cold. Ah, women, women! Come. We have no friend But resolution, and the briefest end.
Costume Design for Mardian by Anita Yavich 12
CAESAR (Act V, Scene 1) O Antony, I have followed thee to this, but we do launch Diseases in our bodies. I must perforce Have shown to thee such a declining day, Or look on thine. We could not stall together In the whole world. But yet let me lament With tears as sovereign as the blood of hearts That thou, my brother, my competitor In top of all design, my mate in empire, Friend and companion in the front of war, The arm of mine own body, and the heart Where mine his thoughts did kindle—that our starts, Unreconcilable, should divide Our equalness to this.
Hartford Stage’s production of Antony and Cleopatra is not set in the ancient world, nor is it set in Elizabethan England (the time and place it was written), nor somewhere in contemporary society. Instead, Director Tina Landau decided to give this play in its own unique time and place, where modern elements blend with ancient influences. a. Choices for the visual vocabulary of Hartford Stage’s production were guided by the question, “What does Egypt or Rome mean to me?” What do Egypt and Rome mean to you? Make a list of images and ideas that come to mind when you think of both contemporary and ancient Egypt and Rome. Use magazines, newspapers, and the internet to find images that depict your ideas, then create a collage to represent each location. Make a presentation to your class in which you display your collages, describe what Egypt and Rome mean to you, and discuss at least one image that you believe most embodies the location it represents. b. Use your collages as resources to create your own scenic or costume design for the play. c. In Elizabethan England, there was no such thing as costume and scenic designers. The actors wore regular Elizabethan clothing on stage, regardless of the time period in which the play took place. Research Elizabethan styles of dress and create costume design sketches for the characters of Antony and Cleopatra that reflects Shakespeare’s time. Keep in mind that in the Elizabethan theatre, female roles were played by young men dressed as women. Be sure to include reference images that support your choices.
CREATIVE WRITING Tabloid Writing Imagine you are a reporter for a celebrity tabloid magazine in the ancient world. A new scandal involving Antony and Cleopatra has just erupted, and your editor has assigned you to write an article about their salacious activities. As part of your assignment, you must use Cleopatra’s entourage and Antony’s soldiers as interview sources to find out all of the sensational details. Octavius Caesar would also make a great source if you could gain access to him (this would qualify as a major exclusive). Use contemporary magazines and websites that focus on celebrity gossip for inspiration. Be sure to: • Use quotes from the play spoken by your interview “sources” to back up your reporting • Write a headline for your article • Give your magazine a name
Public Relations Strategy Imagine that you are a public relations consultant hired by Mark Antony to clean up his image in advance of his upcoming marriage to Caesar’s sister, Octavia. Create a press kit to promote the “new” Mark Antony by examining Antony’s recent words and actions and finding a way to “spin” the information to paint Antony in a positive light. Your press kit may include, but is not limited to: • A press release that announces the marriage and describes its impact on the Roman Empire • A short biography for Antony that highlights his military achievements • Statistics that reflect how Antony’s leadership has benefitted Rome • Pictures of the Triumvirs looking friendly towards each other • Happy-looking pictures of Antony and Octavia • Reports on what Antony has really been doing in Egypt • A quote sheet with statements from high profile Romans regarding their positive view of Antony’s character • A DVD on which Antony and Octavia give an interview answering questions about their upcoming wedding and the future of Rome. 13
REFERENCES Bloom, Harold. “The Great Tragedies.” Shakespeare: the Invention of the Human. New York: Riverhead, 1998. Print. Cummings, Michael J. “Anthony and Cleopatra.” Study Guides for Shakespeare; Antony and Cleopatra. Web. 28 Sept. 2010. <http://www. cummingsstudyguides.net/xAntonyCleo.html>. Gill, N.S. “Cleopatra Timeline: Major Events in the Life of Cleopatra.” Ancient / Classical History - Ancient Greece & Rome & Classics Research Guide. Web. 16 Sept. 2010. <http://ancienthistory.about.com/>. Harrop, John, and Sabin R. Epstein. “Shakespeare.” Acting with Style. Boston, MA: Allyn and Bacon, 1999. Print. Honan, Park. Shakespeare a Life. Oxford: Oxford UP, 1999. Print. “Index of timelines.” The Classics Pages: Antony Kamm’s ‘The Romans’: Start Page. Web. 16 Sept. 2010. <http://www.the-romans.co.uk/timelines>. Irving, Henry, Frank A. Marshall, Gordon Browne, and William Shakespeare. The Works of William Shakespeare, Edited by Henry Irving and Frank A. Marshall: with Notes and Introductions to Each Play by F.A. Marshall and Other Shakespearean Scholars, and Nearly 600 Illustrations by Gordon Browne. London: Blackie & Son, 1888. Print. Knight, Charles. William Shakespeare a Biography. London: Printed by William Clowes and Sons, 1843. Print. McEachern, Claire Elizabeth. “Antony and Cleopatra in the Theatre.” The Cambridge Companion to Shakespearean Tragedy. New York: Cambridge UP, 2002. Print.
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Odell, George Clinton Densmore. Shakespeare from Betterton to Irving. New York: C. Scribner’s Sons, 1920. Print. “Shakespeare Biography.” Absolute Shakespeare. Web. 27 Sept. 2010. <http:// absoluteshakespeare.com/trivia/biography/shakespeare_biography.htm>. Shakespeare, William, and Charlton Hinman. The First Folio of Shakespeare. New York: W.W. Norton, 1996. Print. Shakespeare, William, and Henry Norman Hudson. Shakespeare’s Antony and Cleopatra. Boston: Ginn, 1909. Print. Shakespeare, William. Antony and Cleopatra. New York: Spark Notes, 2006. Print. Shakespeare, William, G. Blakemore Evans, and J. J. M. Tobin. The Riverside Shakespeare. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1997. Print. “Shakespeare’s Biography: Information on Shakespeare’s Parents, Siblings, Career as Actor, Children, Marriage, Death, Will, Influence, and Much More.” Shakespeare Online. Web. 27 Sept. 2010. <http://www.shakespeare-online. com/biography/>. Shakespeare, William, and John Wilders. Antony and Cleopatra. London: Arden Shakespeare, 2006. Print. Sohmer, Steven T. Shakespeare’s Mystery Play: the Opening of the Globe Theatre, 1599. Manchester: Manchester UP, 1999. Print. “William Shakespeare - The First Folio.” William Shakespeare Info. Web. 29 Sept. 2010. <http://www.william-shakespeare.info/william-shakespeare-firstfolio.htm>. “Words Shakespeare Invented.” Shakespeare Resources: Modern English Shakespeare Translations. Web. 28 Sept. 2010. <http://www. nosweatshakespeare.com/>.
Study Guide created for Hartford Stage by Alexandra Truppi, Education Assistant With additional contributions from Michelina Pollini, Education Apprentice
Published on Aug 9, 2012