Pictures of Cleo II

Tonight, Antony & Cleopatra performance #5.  We had an exhilarating first weekend, and I am excited to see what happens as we dive in for week two.

After Sunday night’s show, we had three days of blissful rest, which looked like this:

Enobarbus’ cabin in the woods: a game of In the Manner of the Word. (photo by Aryeh Lappin)

And this:

White Horse on Reach Road

And this:

Go Deep or Go Home…

…Melody and Stephanie put the lobsters in the bag at the Stonington Lobster Co-Op.

And this:

Bates & Weeks: Lobster Feast

Apple pie + 2 peaches = glamour.

…If this is what it’s like in Alexandria, I’ll take it.  How about a few more pictures of Cleo, while we get ready for tonight’s journey?

Elizabeth Taylor as Cleopatra

She’s the go-to, right?  Gorgeous Elizabeth Taylor, dripping with gold, giving everything old Hollywood had to give.

Tina Turner as Cleopatra

Icon + Icon.  Show me a great woman who isn’t easily put into one box or another, and I bet she’s felt some affinity with Cleopatra in her life.

Theda Bara as Cleopatra

The incredible Theda Bara in a still photo from the 1917 film Cleopatra, of which no known print exists.  It was one of her biggest successes, but all that remains is a handful of studio shots of her in costume.

Theda/ Cleo pouts. The music isn’t enough…the fanning isn’t enough…the glamour isn’t enough…the empire isn’t enough…Where’s Antony?

Marilyn Monroe as Theda Bara in Cleopatra, photographed by Richard Avedon

Oh, Marilyn.

Marilyn Monroe as Theda Bara in Cleopatra, photo by Richard Avedon

One time Richard Avedon took my picture.  A month before he died, when I was working with the satirical protest group Billionaires for Bush.   He shot us in his studio on the Upper East Side, and it was an extraordinary experience.  I wonder, I wonder…was I in the same corner of his studio where he shot Marilyn?

Billionaires For Bush, photographed by Richard Avedon.

Who’s next?  How about some more painters, picking up where we left off in Pictures of Cleo I?

Cleopatra by John William Waterhouse, 1888

Cleopatra’s allure continues to captivate painters.  Moving into the 20th century, she was a muse for a number of Art Deco artists:

Cleopatra by Joseph Christian Leyendecker, 1920’s

At last, a blonde Cleopatra! By Rolf Armstrong, 1939

Next time, I’ll work with leopards too.

Yes, there is a leopard in that last painting.  I know, you might have been focusing on something else.  Look again.

Cleopatra by Henry Clive, 1946

And a couple of painters working today, too:

Morte di Cleopatra by Bruno Laudato, 2008

Cleopatra Modern by Mark Webster, 2011

All these men painting Cleopatra, photographing actresses as Cleopatra…I wonder if the icon changes when she is represented by and for women?  Let me take that question with me into the play tonight.  Not to dismiss the men:  just, let us say, to share.

To round out this gallery, here are images of some of the great actresses who have played Cleopatra:

Lily Langtry as Cleopatra, 1891. My nightly vocal warm-up includes the tongue-twister, “Lily Langtry lay on the lawn and languidly, lasciviously laughed.” Thanks to Kristin Linklater, who taught it to me.

Claudette Colbert as Cleopatra, 1934

Vivien Leigh as Cleopatra, 1945. So gorgeous

Monica Bellucci as Cleopatre in Asterix & Obelix Meet Cleoptra, 2002

Thandie Newton as Cleopatra, 2010

And then there’s me, casting heiroglyphic shadows on the pressed tin walls of the Burnt Cove Church in our nightly ritual Antony & Cleopatra:

Cleopatra Heiroglyphic

Infinite variety, indeed.

Now, though, it’s time to wash my hair.

Show me, my women, like a queen:  go fetch

My best attires.  I am again for Cydnys

To meet Mark Antony.

–Cleopatra, Act V, Scene 2


Let’s Talk about Snakes, Baby


This gallery contains 15 photos.

Charmian:                        Here is a rural fellow That will not be denied your highness’ presence: He brings you figs. Cleopatra:              He brings me liberty. We … Continue reading

My Heart My Mother

We started working on music yesterday, and it’s gorgeous.  It turns out this cast can sing.

Our sound designer/ composer is the gifted Phillip Owen, who also created music for 2010’s Measure for Measure at Opera House Arts.  So I’ve gotten to sing and play some fiddle on his music before, and it’s a treat to be working with him again this year. Especially after hearing the ensemble tackle a few of the compositions he’s created for us. The style in which he’s composing is Sacred Harp Singing, a shape singing tradition with roots in 18th-century English parish music and the American south. The genre is new to me, so I consulted the internets and came across this description by a Sacred Harp singer: “this 3- or 4-part music did not imitate European musical tastes of the time but instead exhibited a stark, rugged, and often lively style representing a fusion of elements of Anglo-Celtic folk music with those of medieval to baroque European church music.”  …Ummm, yummy.

The music we sang today was just delicious.  It hovers in the air of memory between the church choirs of my Catholic childhood and some rough medieval magic chant.  And here’s where it gets really exciting:  the text that we’re singing in this evocative form is all from the Egyptian Book of the Dead.

My heart my mother,

My heart my mother,

My heart my coming into being!

Are you tantalized yet?

You go in through the Disk.

You speak with the Disk.

You speak with the shining ones

I am the Sun’s eye,


I am in my egg,

In my egg.

I make my nest in the limits of heaven.

You are in the Sun’s eye

When it closes.

Come join us in our Egypt on the hill in Stonington!