Antony and Cleopatra director Elizabeth Huffman
Welcome back for our second Cleo Chat series of posts with Portland director, Elizabeth Huffman, as she talks about Portland Actor Ensemble’s upcoming outdoor production of Antony and Cleopatra, running June 19 through July 26.
If you missed it, you can read Part One of this interview here.
Today Ms. Huffman discusses her rehearsal process and more!
(Athena McElrath-AM) What is it to be Roman vs. what is it to be Egyptian in this production?
(Elizabeth Huffman–EH) To be Egyptian is to be an ancient culture filled with mystery and long-held customs. To be Roman is to be a young, militaristically awesome super power that sees itself as absolute rulers of the world.
(AM) Briefly describe your rehearsal process—how do you get from the first table read to opening night in a short rehearsal time frame?
(EH) We started with three days of detailed table work, where we got almost through the entire play, but then we really had to start putting this monster on its feet so we just jumped in. As of this writing, less than two weeks away from opening, we are still putting it on its feet! Just like Big Foot this play has HUGE feet and it takes a long, long time to really tell the story clearly while keeping everyone in the same world.
I am really excited for everyone to see the production that we are all creating. I have super talented and amazingly committed actors and designers. AND it is well known, I always run out of time, as they will all no doubt tell you. It has been difficult with everyone’s schedules to keep to my own. I could use two weeks more but they have been remarkably patient with me. I am a stickler for clarity, vocal strength, diction and most importantly, to telling this story from deep within their heart, completely owning the words as if they were coining them right in the moment, and that takes deep work, time and a detailed process.
(AM) When working on a play like A&C, how do you generate ideas? What process do you go through?
(EH) Directing is collaboration, from start to finish, with many, many people working together to create a work of art. No one directs a play alone and certainly not one this big. You surround yourself with the best design team you can assemble, the best actors, stage managers, musicians, production team, photographers, marketing, and in this case, an Arabic coach as well. We have all been working hard together to tell a compelling and moving story. Ideas only flow when there is collaboration.
(AM) Is there anything else you’d like to add that I’ve not asked? Please do so!
(EH) Just that PAE has been stellar in supporting this show. This may be a bigger and possibly even out of their comfort zone project, but everyone from the organization has been on board from the start and we all feel very supported and respected by the powers that be. This has been a real pleasure to work on because of the company’s desire to bring the best possible production to the public and I really appreciate that.
Up next is a Cleo Chat interview with Antony and Cleopatra Costume Designer, Kate Schroeder, so come back for more!
You can find our show schedule for Portland Actors Ensemble’s Antony and Cleopatra here–please join us and see this production that runs June 19th through July 26th.
Have any questions about Antony and Cleopatra? We’d love to hear about it down in the comments, so feel free to stop by and say hi!
Till next time,
Take pains; be perfect; adieu!Athena McElrath is an actor and singer who is also an Administrative Board member with Portland Actor’s Ensemble. She helps PAE with social media and educational outreach. She often works onstage with her husband, K.J. McElrath, in their cabaret act, called McElrath Cabaret, which features songs from classic Broadway, Hollywood and Tin Pan Alley. For more: http://mcelrathcabaret.com/