Antony and Cleopatra and Two Gentlemen of Verona will be on this summer’s Bard on Bower playbill.
The Shakespeare in the park season begins on Thursday, July 13, on the outdoor stage at Bower Ponds, when the Egyptian queen will be keeping Marc Antony transfixed with her ample charms.
“Everybody thinks Antony and Cleopatra is a romantic story” — probably remembering Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton’s 1960’s film, said Thomas Usher, artistic director of Prime Stock Theatre. But it’s more of a political play, as relations between the two super-egos turns into a colossal power-struggle.
“Cleopatra is petulant and spoiled and Anthony is pretty arrogant… the two get on each other’s nerves,” he added, with a chuckle.
Many consider this play a sequel to Julius Caesar, which was performed by Bard on Bower in 2016.
Cleopatra, described as having “infinite variety,” is one of Shakespeare’s most complicated and fleshed out female roles. While frequently vexing, she and Antony are invested with a certain tragic grandeur.
This season, Usher will be turning over Bard on Bower director’s duties to two other local Prime Stock members as he teaches at a national stage combat symposium in Calgary. Usher is pleased to pass the baton to Albertus Koett and Eric Pettifor.
Koett, who’s helmed several Central Alberta Theatre productions, will direct Antony and Cleopatra, while Pettifor (who played the title role in last summer’s Julius Caesar), will direct Two Gentlemen of Verona, which opens on July 20 and runs to July 30.
The latter comedy is possibly Shakespeare’s earliest play. Two friends, Valentine and Proteus, are both committed to other women, but fall instantly in love with the beautiful daughter of the Duke of Milan during a trip to that city.
Usher said the play is full of madcap antics, saucy servants, girls dressing as boys, and love, jealousy and betrayal.
The light comedy should prove a treat, since it’s not often produced, he added.
Auditions will be held from 10 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. on Saturday at Red Deer College for 12 actors for this summer’s company. Call-backs are on Sunday. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org to book an audition time. Rehearsals begin June 3. For more information, please visit www.primestocktheatre.com.