Geraint Wyn Davies and Yanna McIntosh Star in Stratford's ANTONY AND CLEOPATRA, Opening Tonight

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Geraint Wyn Davies and Yanna McIntosh Star in Stratford's ANTONY AND CLEOPATRA, Opening Tonight

With a string of hit musicals to his credit at Stratford, including 42nd Street, Camelot, Evita and West Side Story, director Gary Griffin returns to the classics in his fifth Festival season with Shakespeare's Antony and Cleopatra. Starring Geraint Wyn Davies and Yanna McIntosh, the tragic drama began previews on Sunday, August 3, at Stratford's Tom Patterson Theatre. The production officially opens tonight, August 14.

"Antony and Cleopatra has always fascinated me -- in part because it's a challenging play to categorize," says Mr. Griffin, who is also Associate Artistic Director of the Chicago Shakespeare Theater. "It's so many things: it's history and it's comedy and it's tragedy and it's romantic.

"I'm drawn to plays about the controllable and the uncontrollable. Antony and Cleopatra explores that dichotomy. It's about duality and the struggle to embrace it. It's about struggling with your whole self when the world is demanding that you be just one part of yourself. We've tried to approach the play in a spirit of humility and simplicity, allowing us to recognize ourselves as we newly discover this great story."

Produced only four other times in the Festival's history, the play follows the relationship of Cleopatra, Queen of Egypt, and Mark Antony, who, having defeated Brutus and Cassius, the assassins of Julius Caesar, is now one of three rulers of the Roman Republic. Criticized for neglecting his political and military responsibilities - and his wife - as he dallies in Alexandria with Cleopatra, Antony returns to Rome to help crush an incipient rebellion. Once there, his wife having died, he agrees to a political marriage, enraging Cleopatra. But Antony cannot long endure his separation from the bewitching Egyptian queen: when war breaks out, he abandons his new wife and returns to Egypt, a decision that has the most tragic consequences.

The production features Ben Carlson as Octavius Casear and Tom McCamus as Enobarbus.

Within this season's theme of Madness: Minds Pushed to the Edge, Antony and Cleopatra explores the kind of obsessive desire that causes even mature people to lose their judgement.

"In Antony and Cleopatra, Shakespeare explores love and sex among those who some might say are old enough to know better," says Artistic Director Antoni Cimolino. "The play contains some of the most beautiful poetry about desire and loyalty. Its characters are icons for the ages. As Enobarbus says of Cleopatra, one might say of this great play: age cannot wither her, nor custom stale her infinite variety."

Artistic credits for this production include Designer Charlotte Dean, Lighting Designer Michael Walton, Sound Designer Peter McBoyle and Fight Director John Stead.

The Stratford Festival Forum is a series of activities and events, including concerts, debates, talks, comedy and interactive presentations, that offer theatregoers a unique opportunity to delve further into the ideas and issues raised by the 2014 playbill and its theme of Madness: Minds Pushed to the Edge.

Themes related to Antony and Cleopatra will be explored through several Forum events, including: Shakespeare's History, an exploration of King Lear, King John and Antony and Cleopatra and how their interpretations reveal Shakespeare's mind; and "Love is merely a madness," in which Antoni Cimolino and special guests lead a discussion on how romantic love informs many of the plays this season.

Sustaining support for the Forum is generously provided by Kelly & Michael Meighen and the T.R. Meighen Foundation. Support for the 2014 Forum is generously provided by Nandita & Julian Wise. Selected Forum events supported by Bell Let's Talk. Support for Peer Into the Playbill is provided in memory of Dr. W. Philip Hayman.

Antony and Cleopatra runs until September 28. For tickets, contact the box office at 1.800.567.1600 or visit stratfordfestival.ca.

Stratford Direct, the daily return private bus service, now offers two routes: Toronto to Stratford and Detroit to Stratford. The Toronto bus costs $20 round trip, departing twice daily until September 21, and once daily from September 23 to October 12. The Detroit bus costs $40 round trip, with Tuesday, Friday and Saturday departures until September 28. Both routes run on performance days only.

The 2014 season runs from April 21 to October 12, featuring King Lear; Crazy for You; two versions of A Midsummer Night's Dream; The Beaux' Stratagem; Man of La Mancha; Alice Through the Looking-Glass; Hay Fever; King John; Mother Courage and Her Children; Antony and Cleopatra; Christina, The Girl King; and more than 200 events in The Forum.

Cast (in alphabetical order)

Mecenas....................................... Sean Arbuckle

Eros............................................ Daniel Briere

Octavius Caesar.............................. Ben Carlson

Cleopatra Attendant........................ Ijeoma Emesowum

Man from Sicyon............................ Ryan Field

Octavia Attendant........................... Deidre Gillard-Rowlings

Octavia........................................ Carmen Grant

Lepidus........................................ Randy Hughson

Agrippa........................................ Peter Hutt

Diomedes...................................... Andrew Lawrie

Towrus......................................... Jamie Mac

Dolabella, Thidias............................ Anthony Malarky

Enobarbus..................................... Tom McCamus

Cleopatra...................................... Yanna McIntosh

Iras............................................. Jennifer Mogbock

Varrius......................................... André Morin

Scarrus......................................... Karack Osborn

Cleopatra Attendant......................... Sarena Parmar

Ventidius...................................... Andrew Robinson

Menas, Camidius............................ Brad Rudy

Soothsayer.................................... Stephen Russell

Alexas, Proculeius........................... E.B. Smith

Pompey, Clown............................... Brian Tree

Charmian...................................... Sophia Walker

Mark Antony................................. Geraint Wyn Davies

Mardian....................................... Antoine Yared

Artistic Credits

Director........................................ Gary Griffin

Designer....................................... Charlotte Dean

Lighting Designer............................ Michael Walton

Sound Designer............................... Peter McBoyle

Fight Director................................. John Stead

Producer....................................... David Auster

Casting Director.............................. Beth Russell

Creative Planning Director.................. Jason Miller

Associate Fight Director..................... Geoff Scovell

Assistant Director............................. Rona Waddington

Assistant Costume Designer................. Kimberly Catton

Assistant Lighting Designer................. George Quan

Fight Captain.................................. Daniel Briere

Stage Manager................................. Ann Stuart

Assistant Stage Managers.................... Katherine Arcus, Bona Duncan, Jessica Stinson

Production Assistant......................... Ian Michael Costello

Production Stage Managers.................. Margaret Palmer, Janine Ralph

Technical Director............................ Sean Hirtle

Pictured: Geraint Wyn Davies and Yanna McIntosh. Photography by Don Dixon; Digital Artist: Krista Dodson.

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