31 December 2020
NOTE- Act and scene assignments were added later and change according to editor. Further they break up what is continuous action.
I use the line numbers for accuracy. To make it easier to check against other text, these notes include Act and scene #s.



GREEK Cleo. 

Where is the Fellow?
1625Alex. Halfe afeard to come.
Cleo. Go too, go too: Come hither Sir.

(DK NOTE: because we saw African last in a parallel scene) – having her Greek here will make her old and jealous
Greek woman / Italian girl rivalry good, too


Change to AFRICAN Cleo. 

I will be euen with thee, doubt it not.
1860Eno. But why, why, why?
Cleo. Thou hast forespoke my being in these warres,
And say’st it it not fit.
Eno. Well: is it, is it.


(DK They are watching the screen, the war room. At first Cleopatra facing the audience, chiding Enobarbus, as the they wait for the Antony show to start. Ultimately in the scene Cleopatra in chair downstage, surrounded by other people watching the screen:  Here comes the Emperor (on the screen) – setting up Antony as public voice – ultimately reduced to a voice – bad news comes to Antony off screen – setting up the “go to him”

Change to WHO?

2050Eros. Nay gentle Madam, to him, comfort him.

Iras. Do most deere Queene.
Char. Do, why, what else?
Cleo. Let me sit downe: Oh Iuno.
Ant. No, no, no, no, no.
2055Eros. See you heere, Sir?
Ant. Oh fie, fie, fie.
Char. Madam.
Iras. Madam, oh good Empresse.

DK NOTE: The argument of who should go to Antony (which actress) For now I think local (Iras or Charmian). Ultimately we see them on the screen, iconic images for public display. Caesar watching with the actress who will play him.

Change to LOCAL

Cleo. What shall we do, Enobarbus?
Eno. Thinke, and dye.
2155Cleo. Is Anthony, or we in fault for this?
Eno. Anthony onely, that would make his will

DK NOTE: If it isn’t already the local: The “what shall we do ?” is both actress and role

within the scene change to GREEK

All my sad Captaines, fill our Bowles once more:
Let’s mocke the midnight Bell.

change to GREEK
2370Cleo. It is my Birth-day,
I had thought t’haue held it poore. But since my Lord
Is Anthony againe, I will be Cleopatra.
Ant. We will yet do well.
Cleo. Call all his Noble Captaines to my Lord.
2375Ant. Do so, wee’l speake to them,
And to night Ile force

(DK NOTE: because it’s her birthday, she’ll play the role herself. It was fine to have the other people do it when things were going badly, but now…)



(DK NOTE: Back in the war room –watching Antony on the screen, or in person)

NOTE: the progression of Antony’s speeches to be developed as public address. This is the sentimental one.  More than one Cleopatra. Enobarbus at the table, talking to the audience “And I an Asse, am Onyon-ey’d; for shame” and to the screen” Transforme vs not to women.”

Ant. He will not fight with me, Domitian?
Eno. No?
Ant. Why should he not?
Eno. He thinks, being twenty times of better fortune,
2415He is twenty men to one.
Ant. To morrow Soldier,
By Sea and Land Ile fight: or I will liue,
Or bathe my dying Honor in the blood
Shall make it liue againe. Woo’t thou fight well.
2420Eno. Ile strike, and cry, Take all.
Ant. Well said, come on:
Call forth my Houshold Seruants, lets to night

Enter 3 or 4 Seruitors.
[Done by actors arriving to watch the screen]

Be bounteous at our Meale. Giue me thy hand,
2425Thou hast bin rightly honest, so hast thou,
Thou, and thou, and thou: you haue seru’d me well,
And Kings haue beene your fellowes.
Cleo. What meanes this?
Eno. ‘Tis one of those odde tricks which sorow shoots
2430Out of the minde.
Ant. And thou art honest too:
I wish I could be made so many men,
And all of you clapt vp together, in
An Anthony: that I might do you seruice,
2435So good as you haue done.
Omnes. The Gods forbid.
Ant. Well, my good Fellowes, wait on me to night:
Scant not my Cups, and make as much of me,
As when mine Empire was your Fellow too,
2440And suffer’d my command.

Cleo. What does he meane?

[Followed by the leader is lost, the God has left Antony scene]


30 December 2020
Notes continuing, based on Part II in Ghana, Ptown, and NYC with students. Conversation with Raghav.

Act 4. scene 4 (lines 2505 -2575)
DK NOTE: who plays what role.

*“Real” Antony and Greek Cleopatra plan to play this scene.

*They come out with two servants (Pompey & Yaa, or whoever plays Eros and Iras, or ..)

*The two servants are carrying the sheet that will transform the platform into a bed. The expectation is that the older actors will play the roles, but Caesar doesn’t want to see their bodies, and the younger ones get under the sheets themselves, turning the older couple in servants. So that the “Good fellow” is said to Antony actor as Eros, who must repeat the call until “Real” Antony responds, or someone else does.

[The questions being worked out:

[What is the image of this scene – older lovers? Romanticized lovers?] [What does Caesar want to see?

What do the actors want to do? What do Antony & Cleo want] [Antony is a bit put out by this / Greek Cleopatra is happy to see someone else do it]

Enter Anthony and Cleopatra, with others.

Ant. Eros, mine Armour Eros.
Cleo. Sleepe a little.
2505 Ant. No my Chucke. Eros, come mine Armor Eros.
[HAVING TO REPEAT CALLING “EROS” TO GET THE ANTONY ACTOR TO RESPOND. Could also be another actor who comes in as Eros. Antony actor’s reaction at being put aside or demoted.]

Enter Eros.
Come good Fellow, put thine Iron on,
If Fortune be not ours to day, it is
Because we braue her. Come.
2510Cleo. Nay, Ile helpe too, Anthony.
What’s this for? [MAYBE THIS IS SAID BY REAL ANTONY:] Ah let be, let be, thou art
The Armourer of my heart: [MAYBE THIS IS SAID BY REAL ANTONY or other actors:]False, false: This, this,
Sooth-law Ile helpe: Thus it must bee.
Ant. Well, well, we shall thriue now.
2515 Seest thou my good Fellow. Go, put on thy defences.
Eros. Briefely Sir.
Ant. Rarely, rarely:
He that vnbuckles this, till we do please
2520To daft for our Repose, shall heare a storme.
Thou fumblest Eros, and my Queenes a Squire
More tight at this, then thou: Dispatch. O Loue,
That thou couldst see my Warres to day, and knew’st
The Royall Occupation, thou should’st see
2525A Workeman in’t.

Enter an Armed Soldier.
Good morrow to thee, welcome,
Thou look’st like him that knowes a warlike Charge:
To businesse that we loue, we rise betime,
2530And go too’t with delight.
Soul. A thousand Sir, early though’t be, haue on their
Riueted trim, and at the Port expect you.

Trumpets Flourish. Enter Captaines, and Souldiers.
2535Alex. The Morne is faire: Good morrow Generall.
All. Good morrow Generall.
Ant. ‘Tis well blowne Lads.
This Morning, like the spirit of a youth
That meanes to be of note, begins betimes.
2540 [THE RESUMPTION OF THE ROLE BY REAL ANTONY:] So, so: Come giue me that, this way, well-sed.

Fare thee well Dame, what ere becomes of me,
This is a Soldiers kisse: rebukeable,
And worthy shamefull checke it were, to stand
On more Mechanicke Complement, Ile leaue thee.
2545Now like a man of Steele, you that will fight,
Follow me close, Ile bring you too’t: Adieu.

Char. Please you retyre to your Chamber?
Cleo. Lead me:
He goes forth gallantly: That he and Caesar might
2550Determine this great Warre in single fight;

Trumpets sound. Enter Anthony, and Eros.

[The local Eros switching back to Eros, Real Antony taking up the role reluctantly, considering what is to come in battle]

Eros. The Gods make this a happy day to Anthony.
Ant. Would thou, & those thy scars had once preuaild
2555To make me fight at Land.
Eros. Had’st thou done so,
The Kings that haue reuolted, and the Soldier
That has this morning left thee, would haue still
Followed thy heeles.
2560Ant. Whose gone this morning?
Eros. Who? one euer neere thee, call for Enobarbus,
He shall not heare thee, or from Cæsars Campe,
Say I am none of thine.
Ant. What sayest thou?
2565Sold. Sir he is with Cæsar. [WE SEE SOMETHING OF THIS ONSTAGE]
Eros. Sir, his Chests and Treasure he has not with him.
Ant. Is he gone?
Sol. Most certaine.
Ant. Go Eros, send his Treasure after, do it,
2570Detaine no iot I charge thee: write to him,
(I will subscribe) gentle adieu’s, and greetings;
Say, that I wish he neuer finde more cause
To change a Master. Oh my Fortunes haue
Corrupted honest men. Dispatch Enobarbus. [SAID TO ENOBARBUS ONSTAGE WITH CAESAR]




1 JAN 2021

Act 4. scene 8

Ant: Wash the congealement from your wounds, and kisse
The Honour’d-gashes whole.2660

Enter Cleopatra.

Ant: Giue me thy hand,
To this great Faiery, Ile commend thy acts,
Make her thankes blesse thee. Oh thou day o’th’world,
Chaine mine arm’d necke, leape thou, Attyre and all
2665Through proofe of Harnesse to my heart, and there
Ride on the pants triumphing.

[a liitle later]


2670Ant. Mine Nightingale,
We haue beate them to their Beds.
What Gyrle, though gray
Do somthing mingle with our yonger brown, yet ha we
A Braine that nourishes our Nerues, and can
2675Get gole for gole of youth. Behold this man,

(DK NOTE: maybe, if it’s established that local is public appearances are local)

Change to AFRICAN

Cleo. Oh Charmian, I will neuer go from hence.
Char. Be comforted deere Madam.
3000Cleo. No, I will not:
All strange and terrible euents are welcome,
But comforts we dispise; our size of sorrow

[DK NOTE: Getting onto the platform, stage within a stage. From now on this is the default of the death scene, which is interupted, multiple times, but ultimately performed by African Cleopatra.

[Stays AFRICAN Cleopatra 5.2 for this direct address to Caesar watching the show]

Seleucus appears from the audience. When Cleopatra shouts at him she runs into the audience
Change to Drag Cleopatra
Drag Cleopatra can be the actor who played Varrius, could be Enobarbas in drag, or?

Cleo 3385Go backe I warrant thee: but Ile catch thine eyes
Though they had wings. Slaue, Soule-lesse, Villain, Dog.
O rarely base!


NOTE: Caesar watches someone else play Caesar during Drag Cleopatra


When the Clowne enters, Cleoptra might stay Drag Cleopatra or might be Greek Cleopatra, or a combination of local, Greek, African, drag
Especially is Clowne, whether played by Antony or other actor with local language for jokes.

The point being that the verbal language of the jokes is now unknown in its specifics, but clear in its meaning
AND ALSO, that Cleopatra whoever wears the role, is aware of the irony of snake/desire and death/desire presented as a joke in this scene, that is to say a comic version of the themes, not unlike the Porter’s speech in Macbeth about equivocation.

3485 Cleo: What poore an Instrument
May do a Noble deede:

3530Clow. Yes forsooth: I wish you ioy o’th’worm.

3530Clow. Yes forsooth: I wish you ioy o’th’worm.

Change to AFRICAN
(DK NOTE: get your drag queen hands off my shit!)

Cleo. Giue me my Robe, put on my Crowne, I haue
Immortall longings in me. Now no more
The iuyce of Egypts Grape shall moyst this lip.
Yare, yare, good Iras; quicke: Me thinkes I heare
3535Anthony call: I see him rowse himselfe


12 June 2017
This begins a new order of entries working backwards in time. It will be easier to see what’s new.  I was reading a novel I thought had nothing to do with work: Sudden Death by Álvaro Enrigue. Then  it became about work, ending with this from the last paragraph:

“…he felt he could hear the pleas of an ancient soul, a soul from a dead world, the soul of all those who’ve been fucked by the pettiness and stupidity of those who believe that winning is all that matters, the soul of those who’ve been undeservedly obliterated, the lost names, the dust of bones…”

[DK NOTE: The “He” in the paragraph is the painter, Caravaggio.]


29 May 2016
I am, to be honest, terrified (always a good sign) of taking on an A&C.

The time it most appealed to me was after I had staged Macbeth (in Russia) — and I understand then — in 1995 — (and have forgotten twenty years later) – the relationship between the two texts. I know this much still:  like Ibsen’s sequence of 11 plays, Shakespeare’s texts reconfigure certain concerns. Lady M/Cleo, M/Anthony. The plot’s motor: Octavian, seems to me to reconfigure the motor of  Lear’s plot: Edmund (and there are all those other successes: Fortinbras, MacDuff, whose priggish certainty contrasts with the deserved doubts of Hamlet and MacB

Jul 11, 2016
THE FIRST IDEA094e354f37e99169cafc2bfab00b9dc8

As often happens the idea is prompted by a chain of questions:
Who IS Cleopatra. and then
Who WAS Cleopatra. and then ..
Who WAS Cleopatra to WHOM and then
Who IS Cleopatra to WHOM?

and from that came the idea that she might be played by everyone in the cast
and from that came these lines from Yeats:

Mohini Chatterjee – Poem by William Butler Yeats

I ASKED if I should pray.
But the Brahmin said,
‘pray for nothing, say
Every night in bed,
‘I have been a king,
I have been a slave,
Nor is there anything.
Fool, rascal, knave,
That I have not been,
And yet upon my breast
A myriad heads have lain.”’

and in other place from Yeats: “One should say before sleeping: I have lived many lives. I have been a slave and a prince. Many a beloved has sat upon my knee and I have sat upon the knees of many a beloved. Everything that has been shall be again.”

and in another poem by Yeats:

Before us lies eternity; our souls
Are love, and a continual farewell.

(that whole last poem is worth looking at:)

‘Your eyes that once were never weary of mine
Are bowed in sotrow under pendulous lids,
Because our love is waning.’
And then She:
‘Although our love is waning, let us stand
By the lone border of the lake once more,
Together in that hour of gentleness
When the poor tired child, passion, falls asleep.
How far away the stars seem, and how far
Is our first kiss, and ah, how old my heart!’
Pensive they paced along the faded leaves,
While slowly he whose hand held hers replied:
‘Passion has often worn our wandering hearts.’
The woods were round them, and the yellow leaves
Fell like faint meteors in the gloom, and once
A rabbit old and lame limped down the path;
Autumn was over him: and now they stood
On the lone border of the lake once more:
Turning, he saw that she had thrust dead leaves
Gathered in silence, dewy as her eyes,
In bosom and hair.
‘Ah, do not mourn,’ he said,
‘That we are tired, for other loves await us;
Hate on and love through unrepining hours.
Before us lies eternity; our souls
Are love, and a continual farewell.’



G. Wilson Knight


(this gets you to characters that begin with M, and if you change the letter in the link’s “charactersM” to, say, “charactersI”  you get the list of characters that begins with I)



5 August 2016
Octavian’s in a line with those guys who sweep up at the end of Macbeth and Richard III, among other plays. The person who founds the line to come — and who knew it all along.

Note the double ending (the two rhymed couplets):
Our army shall/ this funeral AND Dolabella see/ solemnity

(which means to me, the “And then to Rome. Come Dolabella etc. ” is the undermining of the public speech Octavian just gave (let’s praise A & C and have a respectful Mafia funeral — but when we get to Rome the real work or consolidating his power will begin)

He’s Roman, which means a volcanic temper is held in place socially with discipline (and as we know from Caligula and Nero, when the harnesses slip off, watch out).

FYI : When I jumped ahead to concentrate on the last scene I realized the actor playing Antony should, of course, play the Clown. I also realize the Blanche and the paperboy aspect of Cleo with Dolabella, the  Roman boy Cleo corrupts in the last scene.

My so-called process with these larger things is to follow threads of meaning — and relationships (between words, between roles)

Clearly Dolabella has some special relationship with Octavian. (the first time we hear his name)

Cæs. Gallus, go you along: where’s Dolabella, to second Proculeius?
All. Dolabella.
Cæs. Let him alone: for I remember now
How hee’s imployd: he shall in time be ready.

…. track Dolabella through to the end, you’ll see what I mean. He’s
starstruck (or pretends to be) by Cleo — he’s under the sway of
Octavian, who enters in the last scene  physically close enough to
Dolabela to speak directly.

— opportunist pretty boy Dolabella? Easily swayed by proximity to
most powerful person pretty boy Dolabella? BOTH.

Note from Marcel:
Dolabella – interesting that bella translates as beautiful from Italian but as war from Latin. He is also in a way a seedy foil for Antony’s pretty boy Eros – who would rather kill himself than kill Antony. Interesting too that the Latin meaning of DOLUS is deceit and trickery

DK response:
I like this kind of working very much, looking at the words and the multi-valent meanings. I haven’t even begun with Eros (note that the servant Mabeth calls out for is  named Seyton = Satan,

a  seedy foil for Antony’s pretty boy Eros is a great starting point — is it the same actor (like Maria Montez in Cobra Woman)? not even begun to think of that

As to Antony — I’m circling around how OLD he is.  He needs to have reached a sort of ripened male intelligence, but not moved into sagacity.

8 August 2016

  G. Wilson Knight called Antony and Cleopatra “probably the subtlest and great play in Shakespeare,” adding “This is the high metaphysic of love which melts life and death into a final oneness; which reality indeed is no pulseless abstraction, but rather blends in single design and petalled excellence from all life and death, all imperial splendour and sensuous delight, all strange and ethereal forms, all elements and heavenly stars; all that is natural, human, and divine; all brilliance and all glory.”
there are two very good essays about Antony and Cleopatra in G. Wilson Knight’s  book “The Imperial Theme”

9 August 2016

​See below. The first word of the play is Nay (followed by a comma).

Much follows from that in my thinking (that we are, at least at first, hearing the story of these two from the point of view of someone who is counter to them).

And it has been my conceit – in all senses of the word – to have the person who starts the play be the first one to impersonate Cleopatra  (as the actor playing Antony draws closer (“Look here they come”) the actors of the Traine rig out the first speaker as Cleo. As the lines are being said about Antony’s transformation the first speaker is being transformed into Cleo. The “Behold and see” refers to what will now be demonstrated by the first speaker: how Antony is taken in.

The first speaker should, I realize this morning, be Octavian: for he is the leader of the “Nays” to Antony and Cleopatra. More, if he is the first of the Cleos we have a trajectory that ends in the last scene with him coming face to face with the realest of Cleo’s, the dead end to her meaning — her dead body (the recognizable cloth that makes any actor Cleo) — that is to say, the thing upon which images of Cleo are projected.

P.S. The actor who plays Antony plays nothing else, until Antony dies, then he returns as the Clown (with all that love/death/worm/worm multivalent fun).

P.P.S. (and how much fun to have the Octavian be the first person to make Cleo’s joke about scarse-bearded Octavian)

Nay, but this dotage of our Generals 
Ore-flowes the measure: those his goodly eyes
That o’re the Files and Musters of the Warre,
Haue glow’d like plated Mars:
Now bend, now turne
The Office and Deuotion of their view
Vpon a Tawny Front. His Captaines heart,
Which in the scuffles of great Fights hath burst
The Buckles on his brest, reneages all temper,
And is become the Bellowes and the Fan
To coole a Gypsies Lust.

Flourish. Enter Anthony, Cleopatra, her Ladies, the Traine, with Eunuchs fanning her.

Looke where they come:
Take but good note, and you shall see in him
(The triple Pillar of the world) transform’d
Into a Strumpets Foole. Behold and see.
Cleo. If it be Loue indeed, tell me how much.
Ant. There’s beggery in the loue that can be reckon’d
Cleo. Ile set a bourne how farre to be belou’d.
Ant. Then must thou needes finde out new Heauen, new Earth.

Enter a Messenger.

Mes. Newes (my good Lord) from Rome.
Ant. Grates me, the summe.
Cleo. Nay heare them Anthony.
Fuluia perchance is angry: Or who knowes,
If the scarse-bearded Cæsar haue not sent
His powrefull Mandate to you. Do this, or this;
Take in that Kingdome, and Infranchise that:
Perform’t, or else we damne thee.
Ant. How, my Loue?
Cleo. Perchance? Nay, and most like:
You must not stay heere longer, your dismission
Is come from Cæsar, therefore heare it Anthony
Where’s Fuluias Processe? (Cæsars I would say) both?​


Marcel note:

Also from Jonathan Bate:
“There are only two men in the immediate entourage of the Egyptian Queen, One is in the strict sense emasculated: Mardian the eunuch. The other is Alexas, whose name would have conjured in the minds of the more educated members of a Renaissance audience the Alexis of the Roman poet Virgil’s second Ecolgue. “Cruel Alexis” is the “Lovely boy” [formose puer] who refuses to yield his burning sexual desire of a shepherd called Corydon. The echo of his name was automatically to evoke homoerotic desire, which in Shakespeare’s times was also castigated as a form of emasculation.”

11 August 2016
the set/scenery thinking is not there yet at all.
open air – the focus is done by color rather than artificial light

two tiers, or two playing areas — that can be seen simultaneously, so
people can act and other people talk for them, or talk about them.

– I’m thinking the transition to Rome is made by having OCTAVIAN
say these lines for Cleopatra and Antony. As if the end of the scene
we’ve just scene is part of the letter he is talking about – and has
obsessed about enough to memorize]

Cleo. ‘Tis sweating Labour, [415] To beare such Idlenesse so neere the heart
As Cleopatra this. But Sir, forgiue me,
Since my becommings kill me, when they do not
Eye well to you. Your Honor calles you hence,
Therefore be deafe to my vnpittied Folly,
And all the Gods go with you. Vpon your Sword 
Sit Lawrell victory, and smooth successe (10)
Be strew’d before your feete.

Ant. Let vs go. (9)
Come: Our separation so abides and flies, (11)
That thou reciding heere, goes yet with mee; (10) 
And I hence fleeting, heere remaine with thee. (10)

[ transition of Octavian reading these lines in the letter or getting
them off of the letter]] [Exeunt.]

Enter Octauius reading a Letter, Lepidus,and their Traine.

Cæs. You may see Lepidus, and henceforth know, 430
It is not Cæsars Naturall vice, to hate
One great Competitor. From Alexandria
This is the newes: He fishes, drinkes, and wastes
The Lampes of night in reuell


I’m trying to see if it can be done with 7 -actors – the second act which I am just this morning hovering around is the key (for now) to how many I’ll need.

2 Ghana / 1 South Africa,maybe 2/ 1 America, maybe 2/ some Turkey (maybe) – India? —  the trick is the varied accents in English, of course, but I think in Shakespeare’s day it varied, too.
Marcel note:
Cleopatra’s Alexandria was one of the most cosmopolitan cities in the world, Greek, Egyptian, Latin – African, European, Middle East all co-existing together.
18 August 2016 NOTES FOR TURKEY

The task is to make clear to ourselves, and then to an audience, the
relationship between the power-wrangling scenes in the traditional Act
II and the love-wrangling  scenes, particularly in the traditional Act

Two weeks (with a day off) — with an emphasis on Episodic and
Story-telling analysis, and then from that to imagery and Stanislavski
tasks and obstacles.

What I’m interested in working on is :

* the alternation of story-telling and enactment. I’m especially
interested in places in the performance where the person telling the
story can move into enactment and demonstration. I mean, for example,
Philo in the first scene demonstrating how Cleopatra distracts Antony
(and then later how Octavian demonstrates how Cleopatra distracts
Antony). See the two examples below.  I do not mean Enobarbus
demonstrating the scene of Cleopatra on the barge, where the
theatrical event is the telling of the story.

* the way the handlers (Cleo’s ladies, the generals’ underlings) are
in different and dynamic relationships with those they handle: scared
by, besotted by, dominating of, dominated by, fond of, lying to, among
other possibilities.

*For the purposes of the workshop, Cleopatra, Antony, Octavian are
arrived at indirectly – what is being investigated directly is
everyone else and their relationship to those figures.

*One actor plays Antony (and he also plays the clown at the end).
*One actor plays Octavian (and some other roles).
*The rest play all the rest, there’s possibly a primary Cleopatra. Maybe not.

*Text work. I like to work from the Folio
punctuation/capitalization/scene breaks. The changes made by later
editors — setting acts, scenes, giving  places, etcetera –- all those
are choices we need not make, and I would prefer to remain ignorant of
rather than ignore.

Bertolt Brecht on the subject:
Tuesday, August 17th, 1920

I’ve read Shakespeare’s Antony and Cleopatra, a splendid drama which
really gripped me. The more central the place apparently taken by the
plot, the richer and more powerful are the developments open to its
exponents. They haven’t got faces, they only have voices, they don’t
keep speaking, they just answer, the don’t wear plot like a rubber
skin but wrap it round themselves like a broad garment full of folds.
When the plot is a strong one these men needn’t be walking museums,
one doesn’t have to make a meal of them, there’s also the play itself.
The medium which links audience and stage is the urge to see. The
thinner the details of a character, the thinner the connection with
the observer. I love this play and the people in it.

(from the diary of Bertolt Brecht, edited by Herta Ramthun, translated
by John Willett. Brecht was 22.  He had written Baal and was working
on Drums in the Night.

“Shakespeare certainly acted in his own early plays, but probably not the later ones. He is unlikely to have written a role for himself in ANTONY AND CLEOPATRA. But the role of Enobarbus, the admiring yet detached witness who speaks these lines, feels as if it corresponds to his own point of view. Shakespeare is a realist as well as a romantic, a skilled politician as well as a supreme poet; he is equally capable of imagining Antony’s dramatic trajectory as a rise and as a fall. He is perpetually both inside and outside the action, both emotionally involved participant in the world he creates and a wry commentator upon it. So he invented a new character, the only major player in the story who is absent from the historical source: Enobarbus. His consciousness is vital to the audience because he seems to offer the perspective of an Egyptian in Rome and a Roman in Egypt. Intelligent, funny, at once companionable and guardedly isolated, full of understanding and admiration for women but most comfortable among men [there is a homoerotic frisson to his bond with Menas and his rivalry with Agrippa], clinically analytical in his assessment of others but full of sorrow and shame when his reason overrides his loyalty and leads him to desert his friend and master, Enobarbus is as rewarding a role as any that Shakespeare wrote. And it might just be the nearest thing anywhere in his complete works to be a considered self-portrait.”

and also:“It has been suggested that Enobarbus may have originally neem played in a red wig [his name means “red-beard”], aligning him emblematically with the character of Judas Iscariot in the medieval morality plays, who was traditionally bewigged in red.”

15 August 2016
the key to the whole thing (love or politics) is INstability

21 August 2016
I have the beginning beginning of an idea about the relationship between the love wrangling and the power wrangling – it comes from following Menas and Menecrates (I often begin from the lose threads on the periphery that I do not understand, and my annoyance at not understanding begins the process).  It also returns me to what I know to begin with: the Brechtian idea that WHO someone is in a play is defined by what they do (This is the person who…?) and so in following Menas and Men​ecrates in the play (which is the only place the audience is going to see them, thank you) we see that Menas is part of a pattern of those-who-shift from kiss to back stab. Menas stays quiet in his first scene. Menecrates does the talking to calm Pompey down, but it is Menas who Pompey refers to and addresses. Later it is Menas who comes forward in friendship to Enobarbas with this extraordinary exchange:

Enob. Yes some-thing you can deny for your owne 1290safety: you haue bin a great Theefe by Sea.
Men. And you by Land.
Enob. There I deny my Land seruice: but giue mee your hand Menas, if our eyes had authority, heere they might take two Theeues kissing.
1295Men. All mens faces are true, whatsomere their hands are.
Enob. But there is neuer a fayre Woman, ha’s a true Face.
Men. No slander, they steale hearts.

​Very soon after this it is Menas who suggests to Pompey he kill all the competition (including Enobarbas). A great moment is when, like Lady Macbeth or the Duchess in Henry VI, Menas tempts Pompey to become top of the heap by killing what stands in his way  — and when Pompey won’t do it, Menas says he will move on — and does. Menas shows up in Octavian’s Counsell of Warre.  

​So all this relates to me to

. ..This common bodie,
Like to a Vagabond Flagge vpon the Streame, 480
Goes too, and backe, lacking the varrying tyde
To rot it selfe with motion

And to the greater pattern of Shakespeare’s Jacobean plays : the lack of a moral certainty, or any certainty, now that Elizabeth is dead and James is king.  (and that IS the essential difference, say, between the very similar plays about Richard III and Macbeth)

More, I think the change-ability (and ability to change) is part of what the play is about at its core.

Going back to the:
giue mee your hand Menas, if our eyes had authority, heere they might take two Theeues kissing.
Men. All mens faces are true, whatsomere their hands 
​I think they do kiss. Pirates, you know.


1615Cæsar. Adieu, be happy.
Lep. Let all the number of the Starres giue light
To thy faire way.
Cæsar. Farewell, farewell.
Kisses Octauia.
Ant. Farewell.

​And with all those Farewells (and the Judas kiss)…​

​The logical place to break (if there is a break in the performance) is at the traditional III3, with III4 starting up again. This would make dramatically effective  the III4 repetition of Cleopatra’s asking for a description of Octavia (to remind the audience), and ​the scene that follows with Octavia and Antony.

Of course, this kind of decision of where to take a break can alter when we see the rhythm of it as it plays (rather than reads), but this makes sense to me for now. I can see the way a “second half” could begin with III4, and because it was a beginning the audience would forgive and (in the best of possible worlds) be grateful for the recap of news.




“We do not find those floods of emotion that surge in Othello and Timon, nor the violent impactuous image or passion that strikes wonder in Macbeth and Lear. Here the most tremendous image is thrown off carelessly, or dreamily: an accessory, but not an essential. Yet there is a certain sharpness, keenness in these poetic effects, like the biting air on a mountain height; thence we have a panoramic view not blurred by clouds of sense or passion, nor twilit in any sunset emotion, but clean, crystal-clear, in a medium washed by bright sunlight, where phrases are sharp and brittle as icicles gleaming.

There is a pre-eminence of thin or feminine vowel-sounds, ‘e’ and ‘I’ ; and a certain lightness and under-emphasis of passion, which yet robs it of no intrinsic power; a refusal of the resonant and reverberating stress, an absence of any direct or prolonged sensuous pleasure in phrase, word, or syllable. It is not easy to speak it: nothing short of intensest intellectual and imaginative concentration can do its delicate subtleties justice. Its quick changes keep the intellect awake; to speak it is to think it as well as feel it, for there is no easy overriding the intellectual content, while leaving all to the emotional cadence. Tragic poetry is rather like a tidal river. The river of logic is lost in the opposing passionate tide: it is often enough to remember and submit to the passion. Here the tide ebbs; intellect and emotion flow together. Nor is that all: there are dotted islets dividing the stream into diverging and rejoining channels, and a light wind ruffles aslant the surface, stirring it into a myriad criss-cross ripples which sparkle in the sun above the moving deeps.

This insistence on thin vowels, especially ‘i’s, this reluctance to luxuriate in the emotional and colourous phrase, as in Othello, or to loose any violent flood of passion, as in Lear and Timon, is evident throughout. Here are some typical phrases: `by the fire that quickens Nilus’ slime . . . (1. iii. 68); ‘her infinite variety’ (ii. ii. 241); ‘that great medicine hath with his tinct gilded thee’ (1. v. 36); ‘0 heavenly mingle!’ (i. v. 59); ‘trimming up the diadem’ (v. ii. 345);’quicken with kissing’ (iv. xiii. 39). This small movement has an illustrative second line:

That which is now a horse, even with a thought
The rack dislimns, and makes it indistinct,
As water is in water.   (iv. xii. 9)

`Dislimns’,’indistinct’—there is an ethereality about these vowel sounds which reflects a primary quality in our vision here. Other such words are ‘riveted trim’ (iv. iv. 22),
`riggish’ (ii. ii. 245), ‘dragonish’ (iv. xii. 2), ‘diminutives’ (iv. x. 50), discandying’ (iii. xi. 165), ‘tremblingly’ (v. ii. 346). Here is a fine line of the kind:

Make mingle with our rattling tabourines. (v. viii. 37)


With thy sharp teeth this knot intrinsicate
Of life at once untie.  (v. ii. 307)

‘The night is shiny’ (iv. ix. 3). This recurrent ‘i’-sound will be found an important strand in the vowel-patterning throughout. There is something feminine in it—in its subtlety, its apparent weakness, yet intense buried energy. There are no organ notes here, rather a strange birdlike trilling, which yet compasses the finest tragic passion in exquisite melody:

Alack, our terrene moon
Is now eclipsed …       (iii. xi. 153)

The feminine word ‘terrene’ is set against the rich, yet elongated, vowel-sound of ‘moon’, fights against it, blends with it. Fruity, luscious vowel-sounds are not allowed their own way. Thin sounds are set against richer cadences:

O sun,
Burn the great sphere thou movest in! darkling stand
The varying shore o’ the world.         (rv. xiii. 9)

The light endings, ‘in’, ‘darkling’, ‘varying’, are pitted against the masculine vowels, ‘sun’, ‘burn’, ‘world’. The result is a certain lilting, rippling melody curiously countering the tragic passion beneath. We get this lilt again in the rhythm of: ‘0 thou day o’ the world … ‘ (iv. viii. 13), or ‘a lass unparallel’d’ (v. ii. 319), or ‘I wore his sword Philippan’ (it. v. 23). Again:

… there is nothing left remarkable
Beneath the visiting moon.    iv. xiii. 67)

The whole essay in a downloadable WORD doc and  online


27 August 2016
The title page of the Folio. The Tragedie of Anthonie, and Cleopatra.
[Note the comma!]title of Folio

ant_gla_ff_a1_s1September 12, 2016
(ideas and questions about the world of the play from Raghav in India)

> Is it wisdom to cater to your masters’ inflated ego? Be it by lying (as the
> messenger does to Cleopatra) or by underperforming the task at hand
> (Ventidius to Antony).
DK: It is SKILL to manipulate your master, and especially to calm him or her down.
I’m trying to render the leading roles through the people who handle them. We first see two imitations of Cleo (by Octavian and by Alexas, see separate email)

> If that is true, does the messenger improve by lying to Cleo/ being careful
> in his choice of words? Earlier he gets beaten but later, he’s called wise.
> Are all the attendants similarly wise? The same can’t be said about Charmain
> and Iras.
DK: I’m not there yet separating them. I have an idea about Alexas, which I will share in a separate email.

> It’s common to marry to form a political alliance.
> It’s common for women to remarry (something so uncommon in the Indian
> society).
DK: What’s interesting in this play is that Cleo has power  and so do the women servants. [and Octavia is the relatively passive object of other people’s power]

> Is it foolishness to believe “Honor is above everything”?

> Is it foolishness to rely on anybody (because they can change any minute)?
DK: it is foolish to think anything or anyone is stable. The reality is that all is change and changeable. Wisdom is to surf the changing wave, ultimate wisdom is to dissolve.

> Is it impolite to speak out of turn amongst your superiors? (Enobarbus and later Menas)
DK: It is impolite to betray someone to their face

> I also wanted more clarity on Enobarbus’ character : Is he really wise? Does
> he genuinely praise Cleopatra or is he being sarcastic? I couldn’t really
> figure out.

DK: He’s showing off about Cleo. “I know Beyonce” — “I was backstage with Beyonce”


September 13, 2016

[Beginning with the first speaker who will turn out to be Octavian:]Nay, but this dotage of our Generals
Ore-flowes the measure: those his goodly eyes
That o’re the Files and Musters of the Warre,
Haue glow’d like plated Mars:
Now bend, now turne
The Office and Deuotion of their view
Vpon a Tawny Front. His Captaines heart,
Which in the scuffles of great Fights hath burst
The Buckles on his brest, reneages all temper,
And is become the Bellowes and the Fan
To coole a Gypsies Lust.[Flourish. Enter Anthony, Cleopatra, her Ladies, the Traine, with Eunuchs fanning her.][DK note: still as the narrator:]Looke where they come:
Take but good note, and you shall see in him
(The triple Pillar of the world) transform’d
Into a Strumpets Foole. Behold and see.[ DK note; with “Behold and see” if the speaker transforms into Cleo, than the narrator is saying Cleo (and the narrator) are aware that she is turning Antony into a Strumpet’s Foole.]Cleo.  [ the speaker has begun to “play” Cleo:]
If it be Loue indeed, tell me how much.Antony. There’s beggery in the loue that can be reckon’d
NEXT: 80
Char: Alexas, sweet Alexas, most any thing Alexas, almost most absolute Alexas, where’s the Soothsayer that you prais’d so to’th’Queene? Oh that I knewe this Husband, which you say, must change his Hornes with Garlands.Alex. Soothsayer. [Alexas wraps something around his head and BECOMES the Soothsayer:]Sooth. Your will?
Char. Is this the Man? Is’t you sir that know things?
Sooth. [Alexas playing the southsayer]:  In Natures infinite booke of Secrecie, a little I can read.
(at the end of the scene)Sooth. [Alexas playing the Soothsayer]:  I haue said.
Iras. Am I not an inch of Fortune better then she?
Char. Well, if you were but an inch of fortune better then I: where would you choose it.
Iras. Not in my Husbands nose.
Char. Our worser thoughts Heauens mend.Alexas. Come, his Fortune, his Fortune. Oh let him mary a woman that cannot go,[ Alexas as himself:] sweet Isis, I beseech thee, and let her dye too, and giue him a worse, and let worse follow worse, till the worst of all follow him laughing to his graue, fifty-fold a Cuckold. Good Isis heare me this
Prayer, though thou denie me a matter of more waight: good Isis I beseech thee.Iras. Amen, deere Goddesse, heare that prayer of the
people. For, as it is a heart-breaking to see a handsome
man loose-Wiu’d, so it is a deadly sorrow, to beholde a foule Knaue vncuckolded: Therefore deere Isis keep decorum, and Fortune him accordingly.Char. Amen.
Alex. Lo now, if it lay in their hands to make mee a Cuckold, they would make themselues Whores, but they’ld doo’t.Enob. Hush, heere comes Anthony.
[MAYBE BECAUSE one of them, maybe Iras? has picked up the cloth and is wrapping it around themselves — and they think the person is imitating Antony, but no:]

Char. Not he, the Queene. [Saying no, we’re not imitating Antony, we’re imitating Cleopatra]Cleo.[whoever is “playing at” Cleo, maybe Iras]Saue you, my Lord. [one of them playing her]Enob. No Lady. [playing along]Cleo. Was he not heere?Char. No Madam.[playing along]Cleo. He was dispos’d to mirth, but on the sodaine
A Romane thought hath strooke him.Enob. Madam.Cleo. Seeke him, and bring him hither: wher’s Alexias?Alex. Heere at your seruice.
My Lord approaches.[DK note: They have to get out fast or risk being caught by Antony making fun of Cleopatra][Enter Anthony, with a Messenger.]Cleo. We will not looke vpon him:
Go with vs.Exeunt.


[The first “real” Cleo is]
Cleo. Where is he?
Char. I did not see him since.
Cleo. See where he is,
Whose with him, what he does:
I did not send you. If you finde him sad,
Say I am dauncing: if in Myrth, report[DK Note: but the scene ends with – MAYBE – Octavian saying her lines as he reads them off the letter he is carrying :]
Cleo. ‘[Octavian speaking these:] Tis sweating Labour,
to beare such Idlenesse so neere the heart
As Cleopatra this. [ Octavian “playing” Cleopatra] But Sir, forgiue me,
Since my becommings kill me, when they do not
Eye well to you. Your Honor calles you hence,
Therefore be deafe to my vnpittied Folly,
And all the Gods go with you. Vpon your Sword
Sit Lawrell victory, and smooth successe
Be strew’d before your feete.Ant. Let vs go.
Come: Our separation so abides and flies,
That thou reciding heere, goes yet with mee;
And I hence fleeting, heere remaine with thee.
Away.[the transition to the first time we are in Rome is Octavian
reading these lines in the letter as if they were a spies report.][Exeunt.][Enter Octauius reading a Letter, Lepidus, and their Traine.]Cæs. You may see Lepidus, and henceforth know,
It is not Cæsars Naturall vice, to hate
One great Competitor.

October 3, 2016

[Dabke !!!]

Ha my braue Emperour, shall we daunce now the Egyptian Backenals, and celebrate our drinke?

Pompey. Let’s ha’t good Souldier.

Antony. Come, let’s all take hands,
Till that the conquering Wine hath steep’t our sense,
In soft and delicate Lethe.

Enobarbus. All take hands:
1460Make battery to our eares with the loud Musicke,
The while, Ile place you, then the Boy shall sing.
The holding euery man shall beate as loud,
As his strong sides can volly.

[Musicke Playes. Enobarbus places them hand in hand.] 1465

The Song.
Come thou Monarch of the Vine,
Plumpie Bacchus, with pinke eyne:
In thy Fattes our Cares be drownd,
With thy Grapes our haires be Crown’d.
1470Cup vs till the world go round,
Cup vs till the world go round.

[DK NOTE: love when they get low to the ground, love that they are in suits and ties, love the musicians playing in front of them]

[ROB NOTE:I like that the leaders twirl hankies. But really:  Do you see a martial underpinning to these dances?  I do.  And Enobarbus seems to consider it the height of male bonding.
Just think of Cleopatra joining/leading one of these….]


Keith Jarrett trio “I fall in love too easily / The fire Within”   Listen also to Jarrett’s Desert Sun

Part Two:

From http://www.shakespeare-online.com/biography/sportshakespeare.html
Shakespeare is guilty of an anachronism in “Antony and Cleopatra” (ii. 5), where he makes Cleopatra say: “Let’s to billiards” — the game being unknown to the ancients. The modern manner of playing at billiards differs from that formerly in use. At the commencement of the last century the billiard-table was square, having only three pockets for the balls to run in, situated on one of the sides — that is, at each corner, and the third between them. About the middle of the table a small arch of iron was placed, and at a little distance from it an upright cone called a king. At certain periods of the game it was necessary for the balls to be driven through the one

November 12. 2016
SIX CLEOPATRAS in the first half
Octavian / a servant / African queen / Greek queen/ Octavian again/boy actor

Cleo 1 Octavian imitating her

Looke where they come: 

Take but good note, and you shall see in him
(The triple Pillar of the world) transform’d
Into a Strumpets Foole. Behold and see
(Cleo. If it be Loue indeed, tell me how much.
 Ant. There’s beggery in the loue that can be reckon’d
 Cleo. Ile set a bourne how farre to be belou’d. 
 Ant. Then must thou needes finde out new Heauen,
new Earth.

Enter a Messenger.

Mes. Newes (my good Lord) from Rome.
Ant. Grates me, the summe.
 Cleo. Nay heare them Anthony 
Fuluia perchance is angry: Or who knowes,

If the scarse-bearded Cæsar haue not sent
His powrefull Mandate to you. Do this, or this;
Take in that Kingdome, and Infranchise that:
Perform’t, or else we damne thee.
Ant. How, my Loue?
Cleo. Perchance? Nay, and most like:
You must not stay heere longer, your dismissionIs come from Cæsar, therefore heare it Anthony
Where’s Fuluias Processe? (Cæsars I would say) both
 Call in the Messengers: As I am Egypts Queene,

Thou blushest Anthony, and that blood of thine
Is Cæsars homager: else so thy cheeke payes shame,
When shrill-tongu’d Fuluia scolds. The Messengers.
Ant. Let Rome in Tyber melt, and the wide Arch
Of the raing’d Empire fall: [TO THE AUDIENCE]
Heere is my space,
Kingdomes are clay: Our dungie earth alike
Feeds Beast as Man; the Noblenesse of life
Is to do thus: when such a mutuall paire,
And such a twaine can doo’t, in which I binde 
One paine of punishment, the world to weete

We stand vp Peerelesse.
Cleo. Excellent falshood:
Why did he marry Fuluia, and not loue her?
Ile seeme the Foole I am not. Anthony will be himselfe.
Ant But stirr’d by Cleopatra.

Now for the loue of Loue, and her soft houres,
Let’s not confound the time with Conference harsh;
There’s not a minute of our liues should stretch
Without some pleasure now. What sport to night
Cleo. Heare the Ambassadors.
Ant. Fye wrangling Queene:
Whom euery thing becomes, to chide, to laugh,
To weepe: who euery passion fully striues
To make it selfe (in Thee) faire, and admir’d.
No Messenger but thine, and all alone, to night
Wee’l wander through the streets, and note
The qualities of people. Come my Queene,
Last night you did desire it. Speake not to vs.
[Exeunt with the Traine. ]

Dem. Is Cæsar with Anthonius priz’d so slight?   Philo. Sir sometimes when he is not Anthony,


Cleo 2 – Iras or Alexis (her servants imitate her a la Genet)

Enob. Hush, heere comes Anthony.
Char. Not he, the Queene.
Cleo. Saue you, my Lord. [one of them playing her] 60
Enob. No Lady.
Cleo. Was he not heere?
Char. No Madam.
Cleo. He was dispos’d to mirth, but on the sodaine
A Romane thought hath strooke him.165
Enob. Madam.
Cleo. Seeke him, and bring him hither: wher’s Alexias?
Alex. Heere at your seruice.
My Lord approaches.

Cleo 3 – a “real Cleopatra” :  African queen

Enter Cleopatra, Charmian, Alexas, and Iras.

Cleo. Where is he? [300]
Char. I did not see him since.
Cleo. See where he is,
Whose with him, what he does:
I did not send you. If you finde him sad,
Say I am dauncing: if in Myrth, report
That I am sodaine sicke. Quicke, and returne.
Char. Madam, me thinkes if you did loue him deerly,
You do not hold the method, to enforce
The like from him.
Cleo. What should I do, I do not?
Ch. In each thing giue him way, crosse him in nothing.
Cleo. Thou teachest like a foole: the way to lose him.
Char. Tempt him not so too farre. I wish forbeare,
In time we hate that which we often feare.

[Enter Anthony.]
But heere comes Anthony.
Cleo. I am sicke, and sullen.
An. I am sorry to giue breathing to my purpose.
Cleo. Helpe me away deere Charmian, I shall fall,
It cannot be thus long, the sides of Nature 320
Will not sustaine it.
Ant. Now my deerest Queene.
Cleo. Pray you stand farther from mee.
Ant. What’s the matter?
Cleo. I know by that same eye ther’s some good news.325
What sayes the married woman you may goe?
Would she had neuer giuen you leaue to come.
Let her not say ’tis I that keepe you heere,
I haue no power vpon you: Hers you are.
Ant. The Gods best know.
Cleo. Oh neuer was there Queene
So mightily betrayed: yet at the fitst
I saw the Treasons planted.
Ant. Cleopatra.
Cleo. Why should I thinke you can be mine, & true,
(Though you in swearing shake the Throaned Gods)
Who haue beene false to Fuluia? Riotous madnesse,
To be entangled with those mouth-made vowes,
Which breake themselues in swearing.
Ant. Most sweet Queene.
Cleo. Nay pray you seeke no colour for your going,
But bid farewell, and goe:
When you sued staying,
Eternity was in our Lippes, and Eyes,
Blisse in our browes bent: none our parts so poore,
But was a race of Heauen. They are so still,
Or thou the greatest Souldier of the world,
Art turn’d the greatest Lyar.350
Ant. How now Lady?
Cleo. I would I had thy inches, thou should’st know
There were a heart in Egypt.
Ant. Heare me Queene:
The strong necessity of Time, commands
Our Seruicles a-while: but my full heart
Remaines in vse with you. Our Italy,
Shines o’re with ciuill Swords; Sextus Pompeius
Makes his approaches to the Port of Rome,
Equality of two Domesticke powers,
Breed scrupulous faction: The hated growne to strength
Are newly growne to Loue: The condemn’d Pompey,
Rich in his Fathers Honor, creepes apace
Into the hearts of such, as haue not thriued
Vpon the present state, whose Numbers threaten,
And quietnesse growne sicke of rest, would purge
By any desperate change: My more particular,
And that which most with you should safe my going,
Is Fuluias death.
Cleo. Though age from folly could not giue me freedom
It does from childishnesse. Can Fuluia dye?
Ant. She’s dead my Queene.
Looke heere, and at thy Soueraigne leysure read
The Garboyles she awak’d: at the last, best,
See when, and where shee died.
Cleo. O most false Loue!
Where be the Sacred Violles thou should’st fill
With sorrowfull water? Now I see, I see,
In Fuluias death, how mine receiu’d shall be.
Ant. Quarrell no more, but bee prepar’d to know
The purposes I beare: which are, or cease,
As you shall giue th’aduice. By the fire
That quickens Nylus slime, I go from hence
Thy Souldier, Seruant, making Peace or Warre,
As thou affects.
Cleo. Cut my Lace, Charmian come,
But let it be, I am quickly ill, and well,
So Anthony loues.
Ant. My precious Queene forbeare,
And giue true euidence to his Loue, which stands
An honourable Triall.
Cleo. So Fuluia told me.
I prythee turne aside, and weepe for her,
Then bid adiew to me, and say the teares
Belong to Egypt. Good now, play one Scene
Of excellent dissembling, and let it looke
Like perfect Honor.
Ant. You’l heat my blood no more?
Cleo. You can do better yet: but this is meetly.
Ant. Now by Sword.
Cleo. And Target. Still he mends.
But this is not the best. Looke prythee Charmian,
How this Herculean Roman do’s become
The carriage of his chafe.
Ant. Ile leaue you Lady.
Cleo. Courteous Lord, one word:
Sir, you and I must part, but that’s not it:
Sir, you and I haue lou’d, but there’s not it:
That you know well, something it is I would:
Oh, my Obliuion is a very Anthony,
And I am all forgotten.
Ant. But that your Royalty
Holds Idlenesse your subiect, I should take you
For Idlenesse it selfe.

Cleo 4 – Octavian again, with spy’s report

For Idlenesse it selfe.
Cleo. ‘Tis sweating Labour,
To beare such Idlenesse so neere the heart
As Cleopatra this. But Sir, forgiue me,
Since my becommings kill me, when they do not
Eye well to you. Your Honor calles you hence,
Therefore be deafe to my vnpittied Folly,
And all the Gods go with you. Vpon your Sword
Sit Lawrell victory, and smooth successe
Be strew’d before your feete.
Ant. Let vs go.
Come: Our separation so abides and flies,
That thou reciding heere, goes yet with mee;
And I hence fleeting, heere remaine with thee.

[Exeunt. Enter Octauius reading a Letter, Lepidus, and their Traine.] [430]

Cæs. You may see Lepidus, and henceforth know,
It is not Cæsars Naturall vice, to hate
One great Competitor. From Alexandria

Cleo 5 – a real Cleopatra” Greek: (Mandragora) removing mud mask

[Enter Cleopatra, Charmian, Iras, & Mardian]

Cleo. Charmian. 525
Char. Madam.
Cleo. Ha, ha, giue me to drinke Mandragora.
Char. Why Madam?
Cleo. That I might sleepe out this great gap of time:
My Anthony is away.
Char. You thinke of him too much.
Cleo. O ’tis Treason.
Char. Madam, I trust not so.
Cleo. Thou, Eunuch Mardian?
Mar. What’s your Highnesse pleasure?
Cleo. Not now to heare thee sing. I take no pleasure
In ought an Eunuch ha’s: Tis well for thee,
That being vnseminar’d, thy freer thoughts
May not flye forth of Egypt. Hast thou Affections?
Mar. Yes gracious Madam.
Cleo. Indeed?
Mar. Not in deed Madam, for I can do nothing
But what in deede is honest to be done:
Yet haue I fierce Affections, and thinke
What Venus did with Mars.
Cleo. Oh Charmion:
Where think’st thou he is now? Stands he, or sits he?
Or does he walke? Or is he on his Horse?
Oh happy horse to beare the weight of Anthony!
Do brauely Horse, for wot’st thou whom thou moou’st,
The demy Atlas of this Earth, the Arme
And Burganet of men. Hee’s speaking now,
Or murmuring, where’s my Serpent of old Nyle,
(For so he cals me:) Now I feede my selfe
With most delicious poyson. Thinke on me
That am with Phœbus amorous pinches blacke,
And wrinkled deepe in time. Broad-fronted Cæsar,
When thou was’t heere aboue the ground, I was
A morsell for a Monarke: and great Pompey
Would stand and make his eyes grow in my brow,
There would he anchor his Aspect, and dye
With looking on his life.

Enter Alexas from Cæsar.
Alex. Soueraigne of Egypt, haile.
Cleo. How much vnlike art thou Marke Anthony?
Yet comming from him, that great Med’cine hath
With his Tinct gilded thee.
How goes it with my braue Marke Anthonie?
Alex. Last thing he did (deere Quene)
He kist the last of many doubled kisses
This Orient Pearle. His speech stickes in my heart.
Cleo. Mine eare must plucke it thence.
Alex. Good Friend, quoth he:
Say the firme Roman to great Egypt sends
This treasure of an Oyster: at whose foote
To mend the petty present, I will peece
Her opulent Throne, with Kingdomes. All the East,
(Say thou) shall call her Mistris. So he nodded,
And soberly did mount an Arme-gaunt Steede,
Who neigh’d so hye, that what I would haue spoke,Was beastly dumbe by him.
Cleo. What was he sad, or merry?
Alex. Like to the time o’th’ yeare, between ye extremes
Of hot and cold, he was nor sad nor merrie.
Cleo. Oh well diuided disposition: Note him,
Note him good Charmian, ’tis the man; but note him.
He was not sad, for he would shine on those
That make their lookes by his. He was not merrie,
Which seem’d to tell them, his remembrance lay
In Egypt with his ioy, but betweene both.
Oh heauenly mingle! Bee’st thou sad, or merrie,
The violence of either thee becomes,
So do’s it no mans else. Met’st thou my Posts?
Alex. I Madam, twenty seuerall Messengers.
Why do you send so thicke?
Cleo. Who’s borne that day, when I forget to send
to Anthonie, shall dye a Begger. Inke and paper Charmian. Welcome my good Alexas.
Did I Charmian, euer loue Cæsar so?
Char. Oh that braue Cæsar!
Cleo. Be choak’d with such another Emphasis,
Say the braue Anthony.
Char. The valiant Cæsar.
Cleo. By Isis, I will giue thee bloody teeth,
If thou with Cæsar Paragonagaine:
My man of men.
Char. By your most gracious pardon,
I sing but after you.
Cleo. My Sallad dayes,
When I was greene in iudgement, cold in blood,
To say, as I saide then. But come, away,
Get me Inke and Paper,
he shall haue euery day a seuerall greeting, or Ile vnpeople Egypt.

ACT 2 (scene 2)
Cleo 6 – 1025  a “real” Cleopatra: an aging boy actor

                      Lepi. Your way is shorter, my purposes do draw me much about, you’le win two dayes                       vpon me.
Both. Sir good successe.
Lepi. Farewell.


Cleopatra as skinny boy actor?

Billiards. Shakespeare is guilty of an anachronism in “Antony and Cleopatra” (ii. 5), where he makes Cleopatra say: “Let’s to billiards” — the game being unknown to the ancients. The modern manner of playing at billiards differs from that formerly in use. At the commencement of the last century the billiard-table was square, having only three pockets for the balls to run in, situated on one of the sides — that is, at each corner, and the third between them. About the middle of the table a small arch of iron was placed, and at a little distance from it an upright cone called a king. At certain periods of the game it was necessary for the balls to be driven through the one and round the other, without knocking either of them down, which was not easily effected, because they were not fastened to the table.

Enter Cleopater, Charmian, Iras, and Alexas.

1025Cleo. Giue me some Musicke: Musicke, moody foode of vs that trade in Loue.

            Omnes. The Musicke, hoa.

Enter Mardian the Eunuch.

Balls joke

Cleo. Let it alone, let’s to Billards: come Charmian1030
Char. My arme is sore, best play with Mardian.
Cleopa. As well a woman with an Eunuch plaide, as with a woman. Come you’le play with me Sir?
Mardi. As well as I can Madam.
Cleo. And when good will is shewed,
Though’t come to short

[From the table on the trestles to a stage on trestles with a boy Cleopartra]

The Actor may pleade pardon. Ile none now,
Giue me mine Angle, weele to’th’Riuer there
My Musicke playing farre off. I will betray
Tawny fine fishes, my bended hooke shall pierce
Their slimy iawes: and as I draw them vp,
Ile thinke them euery one an Anthony,
And say, ah ha; y’are caught.
Char. ‘Twas merry when you wager’d on your Angling, when your diuer did hang a salt fish on his hooke
which he with feruencie drew vp.
Cleo. That time? Oh times:
I laught him out of patience: and that night
I laught him into patience, and next morne,
Ere the ninth houre, I drunke him to his bed:
Then put my Tires and Mantles on him, whilst
I wore his Sword Phillippan. Oh from Italie,

Enter a Messenger.
Ramme thou thy fruitefull tidings in mine eares,
That long time haue bin barren.
Mes. Madam, Madam.
Cleo.Anthonyos dead.
If thou say so Villaine, thou kil’st thy Mistris:
But well and free, if thou so yeild him.
There is Gold, and heere
My blewest vaines to kisse: a hand that Kings
Haue lipt, and trembled kissing.
 Mes. First Madam, he is well.
Cleo. Why there’s more Gold.
But sirrah marke, we vse
To say, the dead are well: bring it to that,
The Gold I giue thee, will I melt and powr
Downe thy ill vttering throate.
Mes. Good Madam heare me.
Cleo. Well, go too I will:
But there’s no goodnesse in thy face if Anthony
Be free and healthfull; so tart a fauour
To trumpet such good tidings. If not well,
Thou shouldst come like a Furie crown’d with Snakes,
Not like a formall man.
Mes. Wilt please you heare me?
Cleo. I haue a mind to strike thee ere thou speak’st:
Yet if thou say Anthony liues, ’tis well,
Or friends with Cæsar, or not Captiue to him,
Ile set thee in a shower of Gold, and haile
Rich Pearles vpon thee.
Mes. Madam, he’s well.
Cleo. Well said.
Mes. And Friends with Caesar.
Cleo. Th’art an honest man.
Mes.Caesar, and he, are greater Friends then euer.
Cleo. Make thee a Fortune from me.
Mes. But yet Madam.
Cleo. I do not like but yet, it does alay
The good precedence, fie vpon but yet,
But yet is as a Iaylor to bring foorth
Some monstrous Malefactor. Prythee Friend,
Powre out the packe of matter to mine eare,
The good and bad together: he’s friends with Cæsar,
In state of health thou saist, and thou saist, free.
Mes. Free Madam, no: I made no such report,
He’s bound vnto Octauia.
Cleo. For what good turne?
Mes. For the best turne i’th’bed.
Cleo. I am pale Charmian.
Mes. Madam, he’s married to Octauia.
Cleo. The most infectious Pestilence vpon thee.
Strikes him downe.
Mes. Good Madam patience.
Cleo. What say you?

[Strikes him.]

Hence horrible Villaine, or Ile spurne thine eyes
Like balls before me: Ile vnhaire thy head,

[She hales him vp and downe.]

Thou shalt be whipt with Wyer, and stew’d in brine,
Smarting in lingring pickle.
Mes. Gratious Madam,
I that do bring the newes, made not the match.
Cleo. Say ’tis not so, a Prouince I will giue thee,
And make thy Fortunes proud: the blow thou had’st
Shall make thy peace, for mouing me to rage,
And I will boot thee with what guift beside
Thy modestie can begge.
Mes. He’s married Madam.
Cleo. Rogue, thou hast liu’d too long.
Draw a knife.
Mes. Nay then Ile runne:
What meane you Madam, I haue made no fault.


Char. Good Madam keepe your selfe within your selfe,
The man is innocent.
Cleo. Some Innocents scape not the thunderbolt:
Melt Egypt into Nyle: and kindly creatures
Turne all to Serpents. Call the slaue againe,
Though I am mad, I will not byte him:Call?
Char. He is afeard to come.
Cleo. I will not hurt him,
These hands do lacke Nobility, that they strike
A meaner then my selfe: since I my selfe
Haue giuen my selfe the cause. Come hither Sir.

[Enter the Messenger againe.]

Though it be honest, it is neuer good
To bring bad newes: giue to a gratious Message
An host of tongues, but let ill tydings tell
Themselues, when they be felt.
Mes. I haue done my duty.
Cleo. Is he married?
I cannot hate thee worser then I do,
If thou againe say yes.
Mes. He’s married Madam.
Cleo. The Gods confound thee,
Dost thou hold there still?
Mes. Should I lye Madame?
Cleo. Oh, I would thou didst:
So halfe my Egypt were submerg’d and made
A Cesterne for scal’d Snakes. Go get thee hence,
Had’st thou Narcissus in thy face to me,
Thou would’st appeere most vgly: He is married?
Mes. I craue your Highnesse pardon.
Cleo. He is married?
Mes. Take no offence, that I would not offend you,
To punnish me for what you make me do
Seemes much vnequall, he’s married to Octauia.
Cleo. Oh that his fault should make a knaue of thee,
That art not what th’art sure of. Get thee hence,
The Marchandize which thou hast brought from Rome
Are all too deere for me:
Lye they vpon thy hand, and be vndone by em.
Char. Good your Highnesse patience.
Cleo. In praysing Anthony, I haue disprais’d Cæsar.
 Char. Many times Madam.
Cleo. I am paid for’t now: lead me from hence,
I faint, oh IrasCharmian: ’tis no matter.
Go to the Fellow, good Alexas bid him
Report the feature of Octauia: her yeares,
Her inclination, let him not leaue out
The colour of her haire. Bring me word quickly,
Let him for euer go, let him not Charmian,
Though he be painted one way like a Gorgon,
The other wayes a Mars. Bid you Alexas
Bring me word, how tall she is: pitty me Charmian,

But do not speake to me. Lead me to my Chamber.



Flourish. Enter POMPEY and MENAS at one door, with drum and trumpet: at another, OCTAVIUS CAESAR, MARK ANTONY, LEPIDUS, DOMITIUS ENOBARBUS, MECAENAS, with Soldiers marching

[DK NOTE: Cleopatra 7 does not appear until the second half]

separate Antony page –
and the political figures

The Tragedie of Antony comma

November 29, 2016

Some notes on Enobarbus’s first scene. This is, in theory, the first
time in the play we see some overt reference to military identity:
Enobarbus as officer visiting the queen’s quarters. (and revealing by
the way he behaves with the servant girls that he is uninterested in
them sexually. Alexas, though ….


Charmian:    Lord Alexas, sweet Alexas, most any thing Alexas, almost
most absolute Alexas, where’s the Soothsayer that you prais’d so
to’th’Queene? Oh that I knewe this Husband, which you say, must change
his Hornes with Garlands.

Alexas :        Soothsayer.
[DK note: As with Philo’s “Behold and see” where the speaker in the
first scene takes on the voice and persona of Cleopatra in order to
tell the story, the same thing happens here. Alexas puts a jeweled
belt on his forehead — or something — to take on the voice and
persona of the soothsayer]

Soothsayer: Your will?
[DK note: and so this is Alexas not another actor]

Charmian.     Is this the Man? Is’t you sir that know things?

Soothsayer:  In Natures infinite booke of Secrecie, a little I can read.
Alexas:          Shew him your hand.
[DK note: as an aside, dropping the character of the soothsayer,]

Enobarbus: . Bring in the Banket quickly: Wine enough, Cleopatra’s
health to drinke.

[DK note: The first time we hear Enobarbus speak it’s to toss a little
shade Enobarbus onto Cleopatra.   Folio spelling mistake: change
banket to banquet.

Let’s see how it works in rehearsal, but I’d be curious to see what
possibilities happen if  someone hands Enobarbus a fishbowl of a
goblet to drink from. I can imagine in the story-telling mode that
when he says “Bring in the banquet quickly”  they immediately offer
him (a la Bugs Bunny getting a prop instantaneously) a large basket of
–figs? which would make sense in the scene, or? — something to eat
followed by the goblet. Throughout the performance I want to reflect
who is watching who (the audience watching an onstage audience) which
I think is a primary metaphor in a lot of Shakespeare. Enobarbus,
then, drinking and maybe eating, would be the audience for the
“Soothsayer” scene that Alexas is performing.

Alexas drops the soothsayer drag by the time of the prayer to Isis.
Then, I think, one of the servant girls (Iras?) begins to wrap a
turban or something around her head — which we watching already
identify with Antony (he’s gone native in his first scene, turbanned
like Lawrence of Arabia) — which is a reason for Enobarbus to be
mistaken when he says here:

Enobarbus. Hush, heere comes Anthony.

Charmian. Not he, the Queene.
[DK note: Charmian explaining that Iras is dressing up as Cleopatra]

Cleopatra (as played by Iras, imitating the accent we will hear when
Cleopatra speaks two scenes further):
Saue you, my Lord.

Enobarbus. No Lady.
[DK note: which gives Enobarbus a chance to make fun of his own
obeisance to Cleopatra]

Cleopatra (played by Iras): Was he not heere?

Charmian. No Madam.

Cleopatra (played by Iras):  He was dispos’d to mirth, but on the sodaine
A Romane thought hath strooke him. Enobarbus?

Enobarbus. Madam.

Cleopatra (played by Iras): Seeke him, and bring him hither: wher’s Alexias?
[DK note: It might just be another Folio spelling error, and It might
be fun for Iras to get Alexas’s name deliberately wrong]

Alexas. Heere at your service.
My Lord approaches.

[Enter Anthony, with a Messenger.]

Cleopatra (played by Iras):. We will not looke upon him:
Go with us.

[DK note: they have to skedaddle so tAntony doesn’t catch them making
fun of Cleopatra. In a bit, in  the next scene, when Antony and
Enobarbus are together the military images will be extended by the
sight of officer with his commanding officer.]


Seeing them through others – surrounded – framed –




Rene Grau graphic /gold dress by Thierry Mugler

Dec 7
The palette. As you see for A & C (perhaps) – with some blues, I think.
an interesting aspect of the text is that colors are mentioned sparingly:
gold 6x / black twice / green twice, both times pejoratively / purple
once (but famously)

Dec 5, 2016
1) At Cleopatra’s court we see Roman soldiers (including Antony) in
various degrees “gone native” like Lawrence of Arabia (or characters
in Joseph Conrad novels). I think Enobarbus keeps himself aloof from
going native, but that he unwinds later in the play in the company of

2) Alexas is the cute younger officer who the girls in the harem dress
up — and who plays games with them (including pretending to be the
Soothsayer for them — see image attached). When Alexas returns from
Rome with news there is some difference from Anthony that Cleopatra
calls attention to (if I go with my reading it’s because Alexas is so
pretty rather than manly — though I don’t know yet if that means
girly, it might not).

3) These aspects of Alexas provide Enobarbus something to react to
(approving, disapproving, cloaked desire) and we can play with
different possibilities, but I definitely think there is some
relationship (if only officer to underling) between them.

(Dec 12 – further note. IF Enobarbus is the hair-pulling Cleopatra in the “bachelor party” performance perhaps Alexas plays the terrified Messenger? OR perhaps someone (Iras? Mardian?) plays Alexas as the terrified messenger. Which would further develop the Enobarbus/Alexas line of thinking.

Dec 9, 2016
I’d like to call attention to my own cleverness, and perhaps an aspect of the play we all should be aware of:

(self awareness in the acting of the play and the telling of the story​

— and so, two things, petty, but revealing. To begin, following the banquet scene when Antony says: (there, I’ve caught Rob’s attention!) “These Quicke-sands Lepidus, Keepe off, them for you sinke.” Meaning Lepidus has drunk too much and walking in a distorted way, as if the ground was dissolving under his feet — ANOTHER EXAMPLE OF THIS KIND OF DISSOLUTION THAT SUFFUSES THE PLAY — sorry, sorry, shouting here) — anyway, where was I ? – ah yes, the banquet scene, with other drunk men carrying each other off (no comment necessary, when the next scene, the traditional Act III, begins with:

“Enter Ventidius as it were in triumph, the dead body of Pacorus borne before him.”

Ventidius has won a major battle, gaining another province for the Roman Empire. The aide-de-camp says to the successful general:

“Noble Ventidius,
Whil’st yet with Parthian blood thy Sword is warme,
The Fugitive Parthians follow. Spurre through Media,
Mesapotamia, and the shelters, whether
The routed flie. So thy grand Captaine Anthony
Shall set thee on triumphant Chariots, and
Put Garlands on thy head.”

— In the text the name of the aide-de-camp giving this advice is identified as “Romaine”– yes, as in lettuce, but also, not really a name at all, rather a description (i.e. “a Roman guy”: – the spelling ‘romaine’ is used as the adjective ‘roman’ in two other places in the text). But Ventidius call him by name this way

“Oh Sillius, Sillius,
I have done enough. A lower place note well
May make too great an act. For learne this Sillius,
Better to leave undone, then by our deed
Acquire too high a Fame, when him we serves away.”

i.e. “Listen, silly. I’ve done plenty by winning this province, if I do any more I’ll steal the thunder from my boss (in this case Antony) and that is dangerous.”

and so:
Sillius is meant to be FUNNY. As in: you silly!

WHICH moves us backwards to another scene, II 1, where I had had a hunch, but was too embarrassed at the cheesy implications to mention before, but now, with Sillius to guide me, I think my hunch might be spot on. Pompey is onstage.

Enter Varrius.

To whom Pompey says:
How now Varrius?

To which Varrius replies:
This is most certaine, that I shall deliver: Marke Anthony is every houre in Rome

i.e. Varrius is played by an actor who plays various messengers (and other parts in the play) — the latin word, btw, means “versatile.” And I am seriously thinking of having whoever plays Pompey forget what the real name of the character is meant to be and say essentially, How now, whoever the hell you are now? — which would, perhaps, give a REASON for Varrius/various to say “this is most certain”…

(I know, that’s my point)

I should mention the process of this thinking. Yesterday I watched some hee-lairious footage of Georgie Girl and TImothy Dalton as A & C, and then the very well-meaning (oy vey) Canadian rendition (and I do mean rendition).

I wanted to see how the Pompey/Menas/Menecrates scenes were done and how the banquet scene with Pompey was handled. I saw nothing to steal, but I did catch a fit of the giggles and was (alone except for Spiké) pointing at the screen and identifying the Romaine Soldiers as Hey-nonny-nonnius and Ho-ho-ho-us — when, slapping my hand to my forehead I got : SILLIUS — which led me back to admit to Various.

Now — what this means to YOUR performances is something to think about. Which I shall do — and encourage to do the same. For one thing, it’s that the audience is meant to be included in the artificiality of this story-telling so that we have real toads in imaginary gardens.

Ventidius and the Roman Guy (precisely): Think of this: V enters eager to slaughter more, but the very sight of a Roman Guy advising him to do exactly that cools V into political mode. Resentful political mode. Antony’s unseen power will seem greater, and hence more dangerous to Rome, as we watch a General such as V effectively neuter himself for fear of Antony.

The glory of Antony is nowhere to be seen in the play; it lives in the past. Watching Titans piss their pants at the thought of crossing Antony, and grudgingly curb their ambitions and inclinations, we also see not only what Antony was, but the emotional and political mechanics of his epic defeat.

That could make the Sillius silliness a cover for V’s humiliation – placing the comedy of the name within V’s clear action of abject capitulation.

My line to Lepidus conjures both his drunkenness and the ultimate demise that awaits him – it’s fun to gently taunt him, when he’s too drunk to see the inherent threat. What everyone else on stage sees is another matter.

Re-set your schtick barometer! There is nothing cheap about Pompey forgetting, intentionally or not, Varrius’ name. I don’t even think it has to be a laugh line – Pompey the inscrutable. Then Varrius can carry on whatever his reaction to this slight may be – possibly even in the other roles this actor plays.

Dec 9
MAYBE: At rise: on chairs beside a little round table, each having a sambuca, two gentlemen in chalk white suits. They are sitting in a circle of luminaria, maybe candles in bags on the floor.

music playing live, a jazz trio (piano, bass, drums) improvisation on

we do not hear the words of the original, but they are from a musical setting of the Inferno, Canto III, 22-30 –
Quivi sospiri, pianti e alti guai
risonavan per l’aere sanza stelle,
per ch’io al cominciar ne lagrimai.

Diverse lingue, orribili favelle,
parole di dolore, accenti d’ira,
voci alte e fioche, e suon di man con elle

facevano un tumulto, il qual s’aggira
sempre in quell’ aura sanza tempo tinta,
come la rena quando turbo spira.

(the C.H. Sisson translation: )

Here, there were sighings and complaints and howlings,
Resounding in an air under no stars;
so that at first I found myself in tears.

A jumble of languages, deformities of speech,
Words which were pain, with intonations of anger,
Voices which were deep and hoarse, hands clapped together,

Made all together a tumult, round and round,
Unceasingly in that air in which all was colorless,
Just as it might be in a perpetual sandstorm.

— It is Octavian and Lepidus, in hell. Something happens that prods the “Nay” — still circling in my mind on what. When Antony appears he is in some Lawrence of Arabia gone native / uniform or suit with turban.



Twelve actors:
Caesar/ Antony / Lepidus /Enobarbus /Alexas  /Pompey  /Menas
Cleopatra /Charmian / Iras-Greek Cleopatra
Unwanted Messenger: Menecrates/Mardian/Agrippa/Romaine
Varrius messengers/Mecenas/Ventidius
Mark Van Doren on Antony and Cleopatra:

Such a world needs a special style, and the play triumphantly provides
it. The units of this style, curiously enough, are very brief. Nothing
is drawn out as with too little thought we might have expected it to
be. The action is broken into as many as forty-two scenes; our
attention is constantly shifted from one to another portion of the
single scene which is the earth. And so with the speech, the
characteristic unit of which is almost breathlessly short. There are
no rolls of rhetoric, no attempts to loop the universe with language.
This universe is too large to be rendered in anything but fragments,
too much alive in its own right to care for extended compliment and
discourse. It can be handled only by a process of constantly
reassembling its many small parts—moving them about in an always
flexible mosaic. For the world of “Antony and Cleopatra” shows its
strength in nothing so much as its flexibility. Any part, examined
closely, yields the whole

The whole essay:

and also:

Cleopatra’s dimensions express themselves on the other hand with an
excess of drama—in many little plays rather than in one that is round
and single. She comes at us in waves, each of which breaks before it
reaches us, but the total number of which is great and beautiful. She
is fickle, she is spoiled—

Pity me, Charmian,
But do not speak to me—       (II, v, 118-9)

she is vain, she is cowardly, she is incorrigibly unserious; yet she
is a queen “whom everything becomes” (I, i, 49). Antony says that, and
he means it even of one who is “cunning past man’s thought”; her
cunning becomes her too, and the holy priests bless her when she is
riggish (II, ii, 244-5). For her variety is infinite; she perfectly
expresses the elasticity of Egypt’s air. Antony’s immobility measures
its amount, but its quality can be fingered only in her, She is
mercury, she is changeable silk, she is a serpent of old Nile whose
movements are too many to count. The messenger’s description of
Octavia is nicely calculated for the woman to whom it is delivered:

She creeps;
Her motion and her station are as one;
She shows a body rather than a life,
A statue than a breather.        (III, iii, 21-4)

Cleopatra is not like that; she is a breather

— in the sense that there is conflict, or competition, or collaboration

SO.. in the first scene when the actor who plays Octavian speaks for the actress who plays Cleopatra she is onstage and mute (or not – does she slip in a word? better she doesn’t it, but could and that potential keeps who is the persona of the story-telling dramatic – because it might (and will) change. Also, what is her reaction? Nothing overt, or scene-stealing – but she is listening to someone else speak for her.

Later, when Octavian calls to Antony to clean up his act, and describes Antony’s past glories, Antony is in sight, listening.  What is his reaction? Nothing overt, but he is listening to someone else speak about him.

Again: who is telling the story? And to whom? The character and role of the audience changes throughout the performance. The audience is not neutral, it is complicit.



30, December, 2016

In One Hundred Years of Solitude, the novel by Garcia Marquez, there
is a repetition of names in the Buendia family. Among the men there’s
Jose Arcadio, Arcadio Jose, Jose Arcadio the second, and an unnumbered
Jose Arcadio. This is confusing by design, an aspect of the family’s
identity is the piling up of this confusion

In Shakespeare’s Antony and Cleopatra there is a similar confusion
among the names of the supporting characters Menas, Menecrates, and
Mecenas. There are also characters who enter once or twice and exit,
identified by name for the audience (Hearke, Ventidius ! – or is it
Ventigius? – both spellings are used in the Folio for what is
obviously the same character, a general who conquers Parthia). The
pile up of these names and the inevitable confusion is dramatic – and
if not intentional (for who can say for sure what Shakespeare’s
intentions were?) makes a pattern that need not be ignored, or – and
this is my point – it need not be clarified. If some of the confusion
in the Folio is due to mistakes in the typesetting or a person
listening to dictation than those confusions are part of the texture
of the play in the same way cracks in the image are the texture of a

In other notes I’ve written about the dramatic potential for calling a
character: Varrius and Sillius: btw neither name appears in
Shakespeare’s source, Plutarch.

What I’d like to point out here is the dramatic aspect of these
messengers and various supporting characters who outnumber the main
characters and in many ways dominate the stage.

They are the outside world.
They are unwelcome news.
They are the people who offer unheeded advice.

The reduction of the play to psychology (and nothing more) or realism
(and nothing more) or pictorial effect obscures this pattern. But the
application to the “unwanted messengers” of psychology, realism (that
they are actors in performance), and pictorial effect (that they are
repeatedly ignored) allows for the characterization of the
story-tellers as story-tellers.

January 6, 2017

There are several places in the text where what is coming on to the
stage next is described by someone onstage (Octavia, Antony,
Enobarbus, Pompey, Mecenas, Agrippa)

OCTAVIAN as STORY-TELLER (Act 1, scene 1):
“Take but good note, and you shall see in him (the triple pillar of
the world) transform’d Into a strumpets Fool. Behold and see.”

ANTONY as STORY-TELLER (end of Act 1, scene 2):
[speaking to Enobarbus] No more light answers: Let our Officers have
notice what we purpose. I shall break the cause of our expedience to
the Queen, And get her love to part.

[speaking to the audience:]For not alone the death of Fulvia, with
more urgent touches do strongly speak to us: but the letters too of
many our contriving friends in Rome, Petition us at home. Sextus
Pompeius DK note: we see Pompey somehow, in some relationship with the
audience] have given the dare to Cæsar, and commands the empire of the
sea. Our slippery people, whose love is never link’d to the deserver,
till his deserts are past, begin to throw Pompey the great, and all
his dignities upon his son, who high in name and power, higher then
both in blood and life, stands up For the main soldier. whose quality
going on, the sides o’th’world may danger.
[speaking to Enobarbus] Say our pleasure, To such whose places under
us, require Our quicke remove from hence.

Enob. I shall doo’t


OCTAVIAN as story-teller (end of Act 1, scene 3 into scene 4):
At the end of scene 3 Octavian is reading the lines from his spy reports:

“’Tis sweating Labour,  to bear such idleness so near the heart as
Cleopatra this.” etc into

“You may see, Lepidus, and henceforth know,
it is not Caesar’s natural vice to hate our great competitor

POMPEY as story-teller (end of Act 2, scene 1)

Pom. I know not Menas, how lesser enmities may give way to greater,
Were’t not that we stand up against them all: ‘Twer pregnant they
should square between themselves, for they have entertained cause
enough to draw their swords: but how the fear of us may cement their
divisions, and bind up the petty difference
[DK note: the next scene is, yes,  the cementing of the divisions
between Antony and Octavian)

“MECENAS” as story-teller (end of Act 2, scene 2):
Mec: If Beauty, Wisdom, Modesty, can settle the heart of Anthony:
Octavia is a blessed Lottery to him. [he goes on about this and in the
very next scene Octavia and Antony pretend to like each other]

ENOBARBUS as story-teller (Act 3, scene 2)

Eno. They have dispatcht with Pompey, he is gone, The other three are
sealing. Octavia weeps to part from Rome: Cæsar is sad.”

[DK note: this is commentary on the scene assembling onstage – and
Enobarbus and “Agrippa” describe sarcastically the scene with
Octavian, Antony, and Octavia

Agrippa: Oh, how he loves Caesar!
Enobarbus: He’s a stylish man. And how he loves Caesar!
Agrippa: Nay, but how dearly he adores Mark Antony!

1/24/ 2016

Macbeth and A & C:

the confusion of oppositions / the harmony of oppositions

For me it begins with the relationship between the worlds of the two
plays. Macbeth constructs a world in which values are confused,
reversed, and in that confusion the world is oppositional and in a
perpetual dynamic struggle. “Fair is foul, and foul is fair” &  the
Porter’s talk of equivocation increasing the desire but taking away
from performance & the murder scene itself, all of these are examples.
That the last speech is not convincingly conclusive is part of this,
pattern, too: the play might be over but out in the audience the
dynamic tossing of values goes on and the lineage of the new King
onstage reaches to James I as King of the audience, an upheaval of
Elizabethan certainty by Jacobean doubt.

For Antony and Cleopatra (the play) the oppositions achieve a harmony
rather than discord. The toss and turn, and ultimate merging of
Egypt/Rome, East/West, love/death, male/female are examples. This
pattern goes back to the oxymorons of Romeo and Juliet (“! O heavy
lightness, serious vanity/ Misshapen chaos of well-seeming forms!/
Feather of lead, bright smoke, cold fire, sick health!” That opposites
merge, and that values are changeable and reversible is part of life
and the trajectory of living. Romeo and Juliet might die, Macbeth and
his lady might be undone by second thoughts, but mature people in a
world of equivocation learn to surf on equivocation. The same sort of
final speech in Macbeth that Octavian makes (setting up the new order
of the Roman empire) is (to my mind) made laughably equivocal with the
two rhymed couplets (the first couplet said to the public: Let’s pay
the respect they’re owed blah blah – followed by the more private
couplet: ok now let’s get back to Rome and take over the place!)

I know, I know, that’s all very nice, but what about YOU? Well, well,
you might look in what ways Antony is the reversal of certain aspects
of MacB. Among them:

*Macb’s clothes don’t fit him (this is said more than once and by
different people), perhaps Antony’s do, one of those golden people who
can wear clothes well (helped, perhaps, by Enobarbus.

*Macb does not enjoy his banquet, we know that Antony does. And
throughout there is the sense that Antony enjoys sensual things (and
that the world can wait while he does).  This extends to the enjoyment
in eating, drinking.

*Macb is tormented by not being in the present moment (thoughts of the
past and the future undermine him). Antony, of course, lives in the
present. And what that means actively is that he is comfortable in the
changing environment. Egypt has its pleasures, so does Rome.

*Macb is an unsuccessful politician (the crowd, ultimately, does not
like him, though they may feel for him). Antony is, by Shakespeare’s
definition in Julius Caesar, a successful politician, who can turn a

*The bickering (if we can use such a word) between Macb and his lady
is enervating. It’s invigorating between Antony and Cleopatra – and
exasperating as arguing with Cleopatra can be, Antony has a sense of
humor about it (Cleopatra’s “I am sick, and sullen” is met by Antony’s
“I am sorry to give breathing to my purpose.”)

Feb 8, 2017
MORE on Malcolm and Octavian:

Seems to me Shakespeare was already thinking about (if not drafting)
Antony and Cleopatra while he was working on Macbeth:

From the last scene of Macbeth :

MACBETH: Why should I play the Roman fool and die /On mine own sword?


MACBETH : I will not yield, To kiss the ground before young Malcolm’s
feet, And to be baited with the rabble’s curse.

And in the very last speech, of Malcolm’s:
the queen “Who, as ’tis thought, by self and violent hands / Took off her life;

And the double couplets at the end of both plays:

MALCOLM: this, and what needful else
That calls upon us, by the grace of Grace,
We will perform in measure, time, and place.
So, thanks to all at once and to each one,
Whom we invite to see us crowned at Scone.


OCTAVIAN: No less in pity than his glory which
Brought them to be lamented. Our army shall
In solemn show attend this funeral;
And then to Rome. Come, Dolabella, see
High order in this great solemnity.


(same form for Richmond’s speech at the end of Richard III)
Let them not live to taste this land’s increase
That would with treason wound this fair land’s peace!
Now civil wounds are stopp’d, peace lives again:
That she may long live here, God say amen!

(and I bet the audience said Amen aloud to finish the action of the play)

And I’ve spoken before about the continuity of Octavian with those who
win at the end (Malcolm Richmond) and set up the new order (Scotland,
Rome, the Tudors) which we don’t see onstage, but we in the audience
know is coming (and complete in our minds as the Amen aloud would do
for Richard III)

A most interesting scene is Macbeth IV,3 – usually cut, and for me a
key to the entire play of Macbeth (and a scene I teach from in script

In short, Malcolm and Macduff are in exile England. Malcolm tells
Macduff he’d be a monster if he, Malcolm, becomes King of Scotland..

Some lines:

MALCOLM: I would not be the villain that thou think’st
For the whole space that’s in the tyrant’s grasp,
And the rich East to boot.

(rich East? Thinking of A&C?)


MACOLM: my poor country
Shall have more vices than it had before,
More suffer and more sundry ways than ever,
By him that shall succeed.

MACDUFF What should he be?

MALCOLM It is myself I mean: in whom I know
All the particulars of vice so grafted
That, when they shall be open’d, black Macbeth
Will seem as pure as snow, and the poor state
Esteem him as a lamb, being compared
With my confineless harms.


MALCOLM: But there’s no bottom, none,
In my voluptuousness: your wives, your daughters,
Your matrons and your maids, could not fill up
The cistern of my lust, and my desire
All continent impediments would o’erbear
That did oppose my will: better Macbeth
Than such an one to reign.

( this is someone else’s vice of voluptuousness — Antony’s not
Macbeth’s – there’s little anywhere else in the text of play to
suggest this vice about Macbeth).

Macduff says that’s okay we can deal with that (and there are groupies
enough in Scotland to keep Malcolm happy)  but then it gets too much
(the horror of taking money and power away from the nobles) and
Macduff declares, no, he won’t go along. That’s okay, says Malcolm,
you’ve persuaded me to be good (or you can play it that Malcolm is
lying when he says this, or that Malcolm is persuaded to behave
better, despite what he has said). The effect of the scene
dramatically in the sequence of episodes of the play is that the
audience and Macduff are unsettled, and Macduff says:

Such welcome and unwelcome things at once
‘Tis hard to reconcile.

— the Macbeth/A&C connection again of how to reconcile mutually
occurring oppositions. the oppositions result in war in Macbeth; it’s
living life in Antony and Cleopatra.

So I think in the way that Anthony moves out from a Macbeth idea (a
warrior hero who does an evil thing (because of a woman) and learns to
regret it, yet still fights on….

that Octavian moves forward from the Malcolm idea (the young plotter
who masks his motives and means, and so inevitably wins)

Which goes back to my idea that Octavian is Roman in the sense of
Eye-talian as understood by the English: hot-blooded, which is kept on
a tight leash – by himself. Early on when Malcolm realizes his
father’s death was no accident, he says (as a reason for running off
to England):

there’s warrant in that theft
Which steals itself, when there’s no mercy left.

And Macduff’s advice (when he’s accommodating Malcolm’s vice):

… you may
Convey your pleasures in a spacious plenty,
And yet seem cold, the time you may so hoodwink.

Feb 13, 2017 The image of Cleopatra

il_570xN.652301750_d718 (1)“To suit their Egyptian subjects, [the Ptolemies] had their portrait busts carved out of native black basalt, adorned by the pharaonic nemes headddress and uraeus or rearing cobra circlet; to the Hellenes in Alexandria, they displayed their images in stark white marble, with curling locks bound only by the thin diadem that, ever since Alexander first wore it, signified enlightened Greek monarchy.” (James Romm, NYRB, 10/31/2014)

May 5, 2017

May 2, 2017
Classical art does not turn its back on nature – it is an art of
observation, but its aim is to go beyond the disorder of appearances and to seek the deeper truth which is the underlying order of the world. Classical compositions are simple and clear, each constituent part retaining its independence; they have a static
quality and are enclosed within boundaries.The Baroque artist, in
contrast, longs to enter into the multiplicity of phenomena, into the flux of things in their perpetual becoming – his compositions are dynamic and open and tend to expand outside their boundaries; the forms that go to make them are associated in a single organic action and cannot be isolated from each other. The Baroque artist’s instinct for escape drives him to prefer “forms that take flight” to those that are static and dense; his liking for pathos leads him to depict sufferings and feelings, life and death at their extremes of violence, while the Classical artist aspires to show the human figure in the full possession of its powers.

— Germain Bazin, Introduction to “Baroque and Rococo Art”


Shots of Liz on the set!