Antony and Cleopatra
The York Shakespeare Project made the strange decision to offer me my debut directing Shakespeare (rather than operas based on Shakespeare/mocking one of his most famous roles). It was an absolutely wonderful experience.
Having been introduced to Shakespeare by a school P.E. teacher, my relationship with him started late in life. I had not expected to get a chance to work on one of his texts so soon, and I was delighted to get to grips with something sitting so confidently between the grandness of opera, the rapid scenework of sketch comedy, and the political drama of the best plays.
Rather than go for a 'jeans production', or any other attempt to try and make an early 17th play about the ancient world (with extensive authorial reinvention) fit into a specific time period, I worked with the cast to make each character sit in a time period that expressed the core of their role. Antony became a Victorian officer, struggling to express himself and uphold the values of the imperial homeland; Cleopatra drew on the liberty of the 1920s; other roles ranged from ancient Rome to Bowie-esque androgyny.
The action took place around a war room map - Caesar, mindful of the great game, watched it carefully as armies moved back and forth. The passionate Antony and Cleopatra strode over it, barely noticing the units they kicked aside. Jim Paterson and Elizabeth Elsworth excelled as the leads, and the company were both talented and welcoming.
I was very flattered to be offered the chance to direct their upcoming Macbeth. It's one of my bucket list plays, and I hope to do it justice.
“Offering a new insight.”
- The York Press