Stick Figure Iconography: Cleopatra

For this "Shakespearean Stick Figure Iconography" series, I deliberately picked characters who were very visually distinctive, and few characters are more visually distinctive than the Queen of the Nile.

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I'm a big fan of Cleopatra's little snake crown. It's iconic and shows up quite often in productions. I can almost imagine the costume designers sketching the crown out and thinking... "yeah, we're adding the little snake, just try and stop us."

The Antony & Cleopatra Death Clock

Like the wheels on the bus headed towards DEATH TOWN, the Shakespearean Death Clocks keep going 'round and 'round...

This was a particularly hard play to make a death clock for, as it has about a bazillion different scenes and at least a million different characters. I've tried to get them all, but if I've missed any, do let me know in the comments below. (EDIT: Thanks to Charmiander in the comments for pointing out that I had missed Alexas!) And now some notes:

  1. Fulvia is Antony's third wife. She doesn't make an appearance. She just dies.
  2. Pacorus makes an appearance onstage as a corpse. He apparently killed Marcus Crassus and Ventidius killed him in revenge. Don't ask me who any of those people are. I don't know and, as far as I can tell, they are all totally superfluous to the plot.
  3. This play might win the award for "Most Natural Deaths in a Tragedy". (I'm counting broken hearts as natural deaths. They're sad, yes, but nobody sticks a dagger in 'em or poisons them or anything.)

Next week I'll be at the Stratford Festival! I'll still be posting Death Clocks (as I still have a number of tragedies to get through) but they'll be ones with low body-counts, to give me some extra time off to enjoy my theatre binge. I'll be documenting my adventures on my various social networks (Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, and my resurrected Instagram) so follow me there to see what I'm up to!

I Have Done My Work Ill, part 2

In Monday's comic we saw what happened when Antony tried to get someone else to kill him. (Spoiler: it didn't work out.) Today we'll take a look at what happens when he takes matters into his own hands. (Spoiler: it doesn't work out.)

I have to admit, this bit always makes me laugh, in a slightly self-conscious and macabre way. Poor Antony is having one of those days where nothing goes right for him. Antony, world-renowned soldier and fearsome warrior, can't even stab himself properly. And, to top it all off, Cleopatra's not dead. She's just been having a lark. 

 

I Have Done My Work Ill, part 1

If you know anything about Antony and Cleopatra, you probably know that Antony kills himself. What you might not know is just how hard it is for him to kill himself. Seriously, he sucks at killing himself. 

Eros is one of the great "minor" roles in the Shakespearean canon. He spends most of the play running around after Antony like a faithful puppy, but then in his last scene he punches you right in the feels. I haven't really done him justice here.

But really, if you want something done properly, you have to do it yourself. Tune in on Wednesday to see what happens when Antony takes matters into his own hands. 

The 2014 Stratford Festival: The Plays, part 1

In my last post I outlined some of the fun adventures I had at the Stratford Festival this year. Today I'm going to take a closer look at four of the Shakespeare productions I saw, starting with King Lear, starring Colm Feore. 

I am a very technically-focused and analytical theatre-goer, so I very rarely lose myself entirely in a play. This doesn't diminish my enjoyment (in fact, I think it enhances it) but it does mean I am rarely moved to tears by what I see on stage. And I'm not going to go so far as to say Feore's Lear made me cry, but there was definitely something in the air that made my eyes a bit itchy.

If I am slow to cry, I am quick to laugh, especially when an actor finds humor in a line or situation that I otherwise would never have considered humorous. The cast of King John, especially Graham Abbey's wry and swaggering Bastard, managed to unearth every latent laugh in what, on the surface anyways, appears to be a somewhat dour history play. I enjoyed myself tremendously, much more than I had anticipated. 

The joy of going to a repertory company like the Stratford Festival for numerous years is that you see each actor in numerous different roles, and become familiar with different facets of their talent and stage presence. One of things that has always enamored Geraint Wyn Davies to me is his propensity to utilize his native Welsh accent. (As a proud, if somewhat diluted 1/32nd Welsh patriot, I am particularly susceptible to Welsh accents.) I hasten to point out that Mr. Wyn Davies's excellent Antony showed few signs of hailing from across the Severn... but I kind of wish he had. 

Director Chris Abraham's production of A Midsummer Night's Dream could have been expressly designed to push every single button possessed by Shakespearean purists. It plays with the text, adding lines to establish a framing device setting the play as an entertainment put on to celebrate the wedding of a gay couple. Lysander is played by a woman and as a woman, making Hermia's father's objection to his daughter's marriage a comment on marriage equality. Titania is played as a woman, but by one of two rather muscular men.

There are cell phones, pop songs, food fights, sight gags, and an on-stage pond that numerous people fall into. It's cluttered and overwhelming and OH MY GOODNESS IT IS SO MUCH FUN. I have never been a particular fan of A Midsummer Night's Dream, apart from the Pyramus and Thisbe bit, but this production instantly won a place in my heart. It is so full of joy, so full of fun, and is such an open celebration of love that, appropriately enough, I fell in love with it.

If you want "traditional" Shakespeare (whatever that might be), this is probably not the production for you. But if you want A LOT OF PURE, UNADULTERATED FUN wrapped up in a Shakespeare-shaped package, I can't think of a better thing to do than to see this show. 

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Is that enough gushing for now? Check back on Friday when I'll take a look at some of the non-Shakespearean productions. Also, take a look at my other Stratford Festival comics

Three-Panel Plays, part 1

In the four months that I've been working on this website, I have managed to complete two comprehensive, scene-by-scene guides to Shakespeare plays (Richard II and Coriolanus). At this rate, it is going to take me several years to finish the entire canon. For those of you who are too impatient to wait that long, I present to you the first installment of my much-more-abbreviated Three-Panel Play series. 

We will be doing this alphabetically. 

All's Well That Ends Well is generally categorized as a "problem play", mostly because nobody can quite figure out how to handle the ending. Technically it's a comedy because HA HA.

OH NO, SPOILERS! Oh, come on. Everyone knows how Antony and Cleopatra ends. 

I'll be back on Wednesday with As You Like It and A Comedy of Errors


See all Three-Panel Plays here!