Antony and Cleopatra Music Director Chris Beatty

Hello all and welcome back to Cleo Chat from Portland Actors Ensemble!  Today we are delighted to feature our recent interview with the Music Director for our 2014 Shakespeare in the Parks production of Antony and Cleopatra, Christopher Beatty.  Today Chris gives us the inside scoop on coming up with the music that will be used for this production, and more.

(Athena McElrath-AM)  Tell us about the music for this production of A&C—what makes it unique?


(Christopher Beatty–CB)  As this show spans a huge amount of time and traverses multiple countries, the music for this show needed to be created in such a way that the location changes are easily identifiable; leaving the audience able to differentiate between these quick location changes and reflecting on the different feelings and emotions associated with each. Additionally, as we are only told of the war that is happening and never actually get to see a battle of it, the music needed to reflect the energy, desperation, and the ever-creeping horrors of combat, even during the ‘talking bits’ in between. More than that, however, is that all of the music is live and weaves throughout the story, underscoring, providing transitions for, and cueing actions that happen on stage.


(AM)  Who were your musical influences for this show?


(CB)  For the Egyptian side, artists like Rahim AlHaj and Toulaï were incredibly important as we needed sensual, beautiful, acoustic music that is both ancient and modern. Listening to songs played on the Iraqi oud, and the santur were incredibly beneficial for getting us out of our western, equal temperament, tonality. For Rome, the simple sound of an industrialized locomotive comes to mind: always moving forward, and running clear through anything on its track. For the in-between, on Pompey’s boat, the sound of water and ship bells fills the air.


(AM)   What was the greatest challenge you faced in working on the music for this play?


(CB)  Figuring out how to write in a non-western voice, then how to translate that sound to the instruments we have on stage, and then figuring out who is available, and for what scene, to play whatever sounds we need.


Thanks, Chris!


More Antony and Cleopatra Cleo Chat interviews coming up soon!


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!


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Till next time,

Take pains; be perfect; adieu!

DCFC0486.JPGAthena 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: