Shakespeare 2018 Week 3: Becoming Antony, Cleopatra and their host of followers!

Wow, what a gas! Today we plunged right in to the world of Antony and Cleopatra, workshopping some of the key scenes from the early part of the play and identified some of the complex emotional interactions that this play embodies in “living lines”! (as Ben Jonson so rightly observed.)

This was a wonderful opportunity to discover how malleable the text is, how it can be moved this way and that to create different emotional impacts on the audience. And this is the role of the director: to establish a sense of what the play is about and then to breathe life into every scene, even every line! What an amazingly complex work of kinetic art IS a Shakespearean play casted, dressed and produced on the stage.

And this play is such an extraordinary shining example of what Ben Jonson was inspired to write in his dedicatory poem

Soul of the age!

The applause, delight, the wonder of our stage!
My Shakespeare, rise!

….

Look how the father’s face
Lives in his issue, even so the race
Of Shakespeare’s mind and manners brightly shines
In his well-turnèd, and true-filèd lines;
In each of which he seems to shake a lance,
As brandish’d at the eyes of ignorance.
Sweet Swan of Avon! what a sight it were
To see thee in our waters yet appear,
And make those flights upon the banks of Thames,
Shine forth, thou star of poets, and with rage
Or influence, chide or cheer the drooping stage;
Which, since thy flight from hence, hath mourn’d like night,
And despairs day, but for thy volume’s light.
Swan of Avon.001
So blog topics for this coming week:
CREATIVE
* Write a letter to Cleopatra thanking her for her capacity to stand up so strongly against the instability of Antony’s mind and feelings.
* Try to compose a sonnet using iambic pentameter and fourteen lines in the structure 4,4,3,3 with a rhyming couplet at the end.
* Act 1 scene 3 of Antony Cleopatra dramatizes a couple in the throes of a domestic argument about allegiances. Try to create a short dramatic scene (in the form of a short drama extract) that captures some of the energy that might fly around in a modern version of this scene.
CRITICAL
* Discuss what you think Ben Jonson means in the following  lines and give a few examples from Shakespeare that support your argument:

…………………………………………………………………….the race
Of Shakespeare’s mind and manners brightly shines
In his well-turnèd, and true-filèd lines;
In each of which he seems to shake a lance,
As brandish’d at the eyes of ignorance.
* Explore the opening speech by Philo (lines 1-13), say what you think it means and discuss why this speech is so important to the drama that unfolds hereafter .
* Check out Michael Cathcart’s interview with the cast of Bell Shakespeare’s Antony and Cleopatra and present a brief summary of what you have learned from this interview. Find the interview here: http://www.abc.net.au/radionational/programs/the-hub-on-stage/the-hub-on-stage-5-march-2018/9508870

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