Portland Actors Ensemble is proud to have Alex Diaz-Hui as Dramaturg for Antony and Cleopatra
Happy Wednesday! We’re back with more Cleo Chat for you, and today Portland Actors Ensemble is pleased to present our Dramaturg for the 2014 Twilight Tragedie production of Antony and Cleopatra, Alex Diaz-Hui. Alex was kind enough to prepare a wonderful study guide for our production, so we encourage you to check it out! Here’s more from Alex, who today talks to us about the research that was done in creating the study guide.
(Athena McElrath–AM) Tell us a little bit about the study guide that you’ve created for PAE’s production of A&C? Perhaps clarify for us a little bit about the time periods in which the play is set and the locations?
(Alex Diaz-Hui–ADH) I divided the study guide into several different parts: the actual history of the events leading up to the play, a synopsis, the aftermath and the events that occur after the play, and notes on the modernization. Antony and Cleopatra is set after the death of Julius Caesar and the formation of the triumvirate between Antony, Lepidus, who in our production is Lepida, and Octavian. The play begins as Antony destroys the agreements of the triumvirate as he falls more in love with Cleopatra and Egyptian culture. Of course there is so much more history than I can say right now, but the main point is the play starts as ferocity forms between Antony and the members of the triumvirate. This production sets Antony and Cleopatra in the modern world in order to display the parallels between Rome’s imperialism and the imperialism of the United States, especially with the invasion of Iraq and Afghanistan. This production creates a world in Egypt not seen by the common American; it is a land that embraces culture and love, whereas the Romans focus on power and politics. Modernization like this can only work if it has some significance to current events. You can modernize Titus Andronicus or Sophocles’ Antigone, but if you have no reasoning behind it besides just being “edgy and hip”, the work will come off as just ridiculous. The reasoning behind modernization in this production does great service to the story of Antony and Cleopatra.
(AM) What types of resources did you use in your research used to prepare the study guide, and did you come across anything surprising or shocking during this process?
(ADH) My main resources in my studies were history textbooks, resources from libraries, and an online database of information. I was also fortunate enough to take a history class that focused on Roman history while working on this production. For information on the modern time period, I read news articles to gather accurate information. What shocked me the most was how easy it was for me to see the similarities between the history of Antony and Cleopatra to modern events in the Middle East and other regions. The connections between history and current events were shocking, which made me love this production even more.
(AM) In addition to dramaturgical endeavors, do you also do other types of writing, and what kinds?
(ADH) Besides dramaturgical studies, I am a playwright and poet who does mainly avant-garde and conceptual writing. I also enjoy writing literary criticism and other essays.
(AM) What has been the most interesting aspect of working on this production for you?
(ADH) What I found most interesting with this production is how I could make so many comparisons to the history of Rome and modern history. I could find a few similarities once in a while, but my research has allowed me to see how historic recurrence can actually occur more than just once. To see how this production has used historic recurrence to make a beautiful retelling of Shakespeare’s tragedy is truly amazing.
You can find our show schedule for Portland Actors Ensemble’s Antony and Cleopatra here–please join us and see this fabulous production that runs June 19th through July 26th.
And don’t forget–we’d love to see you at our summer Shakespeare in the Parks touring production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream–we open next week, on July 12th! Here is the Midsummer Night’s Dream show schedule!
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/