Hudson Warehouse Presents ANTONY AND CLEOPATRA
Hudson Warehouse Kicks off their 16th season with the passionate story of star-crossed lovers from ancient history in Shakespeare's Antony and Cleopatra, starring Ben Farmer and company member Emily Sarah Cohn. Company member George K. Wells directs this production. Mr. Wells directed and played the title role in Hudson Warehouse's 2018 production of Hamlet.
Mr. Wells sets the story in an alternate reality of world history, one that's a vision of modern warfare colored by elements of the classical world. We see contemporary weaponry alongside swords and Roman capes over cargo pants and contemporary military boots. Beyond the aesthetics, we also see a markedly different world, sociologically speaking.
Mr. Wells says, "There has been extensive cross-gender casting for our Antony and Cleopatra suggesting a world where, if there ever was a gender gap, socio-economically speaking, it has long been closed. Cleopatra's trusted servant Charmian is, in this production, played by a man and the Roman leader, Octavius Caesar, who wars against Antony, is played by a woman. By setting our story in this reality, we are able to look at this story from an entirely new angle from what has been seen before. It is extraordinarily exciting to be able to rework this famous story into this context while honoring the original text."
Director Mr. Wells says of this adaptation, "The legend of Antony and Cleopatra is one of the most well-known tales of star-crossed lovers ever told, but what Shakespeare offers us is an extraordinary departure for an historic epic. For me what has always shined brightest through his words is his ability to hold a mirror up to nature and to display humanity, with all of its imperfections and uncertainties: nowhere more so than with Antony and Cleopatra. These characters are not the heroes that the groundlings at the globe would have read about in Plutarch. These are individuals with fierce passions of ego and investment in the political landscape, who realize too late how much their affections and true love for one another might have been guiding them all along."
In 2018, Council Member Helen Rosenthal presented Hudson Warehouse a Proclamation from the City of New York for bringing arts to the community since 2004. Executive Director Susane Lee said, "This honor and recognition from the city has been incredibly thrilling for all of us at Hudson Warehouse. This Proclamation truly supports all the hard work of doing outdoor theater, and we thank everyone who has been a part of our theater family for helping us get recognized by the city and by our community."
The production: The audience enters the world through the eyes of the seasoned Roman soldier Enobarbus, played by Paul Singleton, who acts as the audience's liaison to this tumultuous landscape. He presents a world where love has never been the primary objective, where honor and loyalty to country reign supreme. Cleopatra (Emily Sarah Cohn) is equally as comfortable in military boots as Antony. She is equally adept at military strategy, and has many battles won prior to our story to show for it. Cleopatra's parental figure Charmian (James Foster, Jr.) and her childhood friend and confidante Iras (Courtney Harrington) represent Cleopatra's only true family in her life. Antony's (Ben Farmer) family are his fellow Soldiers.
The soon to be first emperor of Rome, Octavius Caesar, played by Linda Elizabeth, is the epitome of the cold, dispassionate world of wartime strategy and political maneuvering. Her counselors are the brilliant Roman general Agrippa (Olaf Eide) and Mycaenas (Dash King) and together they represent the impending and inexorable force of the future of this legendary time in history, overpowering and marching against the last vestiges of the former powers that be. Pompey (Nate Mattingly), the son of the late Pompey The Great, along with his band of modern pirates Menas (Teresa Catherine) and Menecrates (Jake Geary) offer their challenges to Rome and are the last to stand in the way of Caesar's inevitable destiny in Egypt. While the trivialities of love may be pushed aside for the seemingly more important political gains, we see perhaps that it is this same indulgence in warmth and human connection that may be the paramount redeeming factor of the soul of this world.
ANTONY AND CLEOPATRA previews on June 6th and opens on June 7th. Performances are June 6th - July 1st, Thursdays - Sundays at 6:30pm at The Soldiers' and Sailors' Monument on West 89th and Riverside Drive. Outdoor performances are on the north patio, behind the monument. All performances are "Pay What You Can," with a basket being passed at the end of each show. There are no tickets; just show up and grab a seat on the benches or steps of the monument. It is strongly suggested that you arrive no later than 6:15pm. Running time: 2 hours. More information at www.Hudsonwarehouse.net.