Balt Shakespeare Factory Opens 2017 Season with Historic ANTONY AND CLEOPATRA

Baltimore Shakespeare Factory (BSF), working closely with world-renowned dialect and original pronunciation (OP) expert Paul Meier, will open its 2017 season with an historic production of Shakespeare's Antony and Cleopatra, March 31 through April 23 at The Great Hall at St. Mary's Community Center. BSF's presentation will be the very first time that modern audiences will be able to hear Antony and Cleopatra spoken the way Shakespeare's audiences would have heard it when it was first performed in the early 1600s.
Tickets start at $15, plus applicable service fees, and are on sale now at Brown Paper Tickets. For more information, call (410) 662-9455 or
This will be the third consecutive season in which BSF has produced a play in OP. In keeping with the company's philosophy to produce the works of Shakespeare using the staging conditions of his time, the company plans to continue performing at least one play in OP each season, making BSF among the world's foremost producers of OP Shakespeare. Worldwide, less than twenty OP productions have been mounted since the 2004 Globe Theatre production of Romeo and Juliet revitalized interest in that type of Shakespearean performance.
Considered by some to be the greatest love story ever told, Antony and Cleopatra is a sweeping epic that pits East against West in a battle that shaped a new world. The play offers keen insight into timeless themes of love, honor, and power that are still relevant today.
BSF's associate artistic director Chris Cotterman and Valerie Dowdle play the title roles, respectively. Chris has been part of BSF since 2012. He directed last season's Much Ado About Nothing, and co-directed 2013's A Midsummer Night's Dream with Tom Delise. Valerie has been a company member with BSF since 2014, when she played Duke Vincentio in Measure for Measure. In 2015 she appeared as Portia in The Merchant of Venice in OP, and as King Henry in the all-female production of Henry IV, Part 1. BSF founder and artistic director Tom Delise directs this production.
With its commitment to presenting OP productions, BSF continues its relationship with OP experts David and Ben Crystal. Accent and dialect expert Paul Meier joins the advisory board, and will consult on this production. Meier is a Shakespeare scholar, teacher and coach. His Voicing Shakespeare ebook addresses the linguistic challenges of Shakespearean language. As a member of the BBC Drama Repertory Company, Meier acted in more than a dozen of Shakespeare's works. In his teaching at universities and conservatories, and in his classes at the Shakespeare Centre in Stratford-upon-Avon in England, he has trained two generations of actors in Shakespeare's works.
March 31 - April 23, 2017
Fridays at 8 p.m., Saturdays at 8 p.m., Sundays at 4 p.m.
Pre-show entertainment begins 30 minutes before curtain.
The Great Hall at St. Mary's Community Center - 3900 Roland Avenue, Baltimore 21211
THE CAST (in alphabetical order)
Kerry Brady Octavia/Menecrates
Jessica Behar Menas
Chris Cotterman Mark Antony
Valerie Dowdle Cleopatra
David Forrer Ponpey
Isa Guitian Iras/Ventidius
Flynn Harne Enobarbus/Gallus
Troy Jennings Octavius Caesar
Joe Lewis Agrippa/Philo/Diomed
Tom Piccin Mardian/Scarus/Thidias/Seleucus
Bethany Mayo Charmaina/Silius
Eric Scherbarth Alexa/Maecenas
Paul Meier OP Consultant
Tom Delise Director
Jonas David Grey Assistant Director
Jessica Clark-May Dramaturg
April Forrer Costume Designer
Jim Stimson Music Director
Rachel Tilley Stage Manager
Ben and David Crystal discuss Original Pronunciation:
Ben Crystal demonstrates the difference between Regular Pronunciation and Original Pronunciation:
David Crystal's site on Original Pronunciation:
Tom Delise founded Baltimore Shakespeare Factory (BSF) in 2006 and is the artistic director of the company. He received a BA degree in English from Brockport University and a master's degree in liberal studies from Towson University. For BSF, he has directed The Taming of the Shrew, Twelfth Night, The Comedy of Errors, Much Ado About Nothing, As You Like It, Macbeth, Love's Labor's Lost, Romeo and Juliet, Hamlet, Richard III, Measure for Measureand co-directed A Midsummer Night's Dream with Chris Cotterman. He has also directed a staged reading of The Famous Victories of Henry V, performed at the American Shakespeare Center. Delise has been a high school teacher for over thirty years and is the author of the book, That Is the Question: The Ultimate Shakespeare Quiz Book.
Baltimore Shakespeare Factory (BSF) is dedicated to bringing the works of William Shakespeare to life for audiences of all ages and backgrounds. In Shakespeare's time, the theater was accessible to everyone, and BSF prides itself on continuing that tradition by presenting professional quality work at affordable prices.
BSF productions are designed to help audiences understand and enjoy Shakespeare's mastery of language and wordplay. The language of Shakespeare's works is the cornerstone of their artistic and literary merit, and BSF takes great pride in paying meticulous attention to that language in order to deliver it in such a way that makes it accessible to modern audiences. BSF productions are not notion or concept driven - we believe the language that Shakespeare gave us is all an audience needs to appreciate these works.
The core philosophy of BSF is to reproduce the staging conditions that Shakespeare used to present his plays on the stages of the Elizabethan and Jacobean periods. Productions use universal lighting, allowing the actors to see and interact with the audience. Just as Shakespeare's actors entertained audiences with the songs of the day, BSF actors perform modern music (thematically related to the show) prior to the show and during intermission. BSF also makes liberal use of cross-gender casting as a nod to the conventions of Shakespeare's stage where virtually all female roles were played young boys or men. Productions regularly feature women playing the parts of men and men playing the parts of women. In addition, the acting companies of Shakespeare's time also liberally used doubling, when one actor may play more than one role in a play. Our actors have played as many as eight roles in a single play.
BSF also continues to expand its outreach into the community, offering programs in local schools and libraries, as well as extensive summer camp programs for local elementary, middle, and high school students. The Baltimore Shakespeare Factory is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization and a member of the Shakespeare Theatre Association and the Greater Baltimore Cultural Alliance.

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