Shakespeare Uncovered (2012–…): Season 2, Episode 5 - Antony & Cleopatra with Kim Cattrall - full transcript

Kim Catrall discusses William Shakespeare's Antony and Cleopatra with Janet Suzman, Harriet Walker and Vanessa Redgrave.

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2,000 years ago, two of
the most powerful people

in the world met
and fell in love.

This is the story
of a Roman general

who fell obsessively in
love with an Egyptian queen,

causing an epic clash
between two ancient cultures.

An epic play demands
epic characters,

so Shakespeare created
perhaps his biggest ever

female role, that of Cleopatra.

Take in that kingdom,
enfranchise that...

Perform or else we damn thee.

O, my love.

It's the only play in the world

where the woman has
a really interesting part.

What have you done...

And alongside Cleopatra

is Antony, her doting lover.

I think I had more fun
playing Mark Antony than

any other Shakespearian
character I've ever played.

It's a story that has
captured our imaginations

from the start.

It's Shakespeare's masterpiece,

"Antony and Cleopatra."

There are no
other characters like

any of the characters in
"Antony and Cleopatra."

Cleopatra is one
of the greatest roles

for an actress, one that
I've been lucky enough

to play twice.

Oh, that's exactly
what I want to do here,

"But I don't like, but yet."

It's really "Rah!"

But even though
I played the part

and I know the play,
I still have questions

I want answers to.

How much of the real Cleopatra
lives in Shakespeare's play,

and did she die
for love or politics?

His captain's heart transformed

into a strumpet's fool...

Behold and see.

This is what many
people think of

when they imagine
"Antony and Cleopatra"...

Fabulous locations,
sets, costumes,

a glamorous love story.

It's starring Elizabeth
Taylor and Richard Burton,

and in 1963, it was one of
the most expensive movies

ever made.

Fabulous feast.

One is so limited when
one travels by ship.

I love this movie.

It's really fun.

It's not Shakespearian,
it's not in verse,

it doesn't have the...
Well, the more complicated

overtones and undertones
that the original play does,

but it does have some
magic, great costumes,

and fight scenes,

and it does define

how people perceive
Cleopatra today.

What I feel I should have felt

long ago when I was very young.

people are credited with writing

the screenplay for this movie.

Unfortunately, not one of
them is William Shakespeare.

It's life...

How it hurts,

how love can stab the heart.

I love you, I love you, Antony!

The original "Tragedy
of Antony and Cleopatra"

is one of Shakespeare's
later plays.

This is not the
teenage love story

of "Romeo and Juliet."

Cleopatra is the-39-year
old queen of Egypt,

and Antony, one of the 3 leaders

of the Roman world, is 53.

This is the story of their
tempestuous love affair

as it implodes in a
Roman Empire split

by political turmoil.

In many ways, this is the climax

of Shakespeare's
career in tragedy.

It's Shakespeare
writing on a vast stage,

writing for a huge canvas.

It's a play that takes
on the whole world...

The world of politics,
of history, and of love.

What sport tonight?

Hear the ambassadors!

O, fie, wrangling queen.

When I was 11 years
old, I was lucky enough

to be taken to Stratford
on Avon by my aunt,

and I saw this
wonderful actress called

Janet Suzman, who
inspired to me unknowingly

to be an actress.

Excellent falsehood!

also starred in a television version

of her "Antony and Cleopatra."

This was a Cleopatra
to be reckoned with...

Earthy, sexual,
powerful, passionate,

and incredibly intelligent.

I will be even with
thee, doubt it not.

But why, why, why?

Thou hast forspoke
my being in these wars

and says it is not fit.

Janet Suzman has not only played

a definitive Cleopatra.

She recently directed
the play, as well,

and asked me to
take on the role.

I jumped at the chance.

O my oblivion is
the very Antony,

and I am all forgotten.

Kim, when I played it,

I was a bit too
young for it frankly,

and I felt that then.

You did?

And one of the
reasons I was so thrilled

to be able to
explore it with you,

who were the right
age and the right stage

to broach this creature,

was that we could re-explore
it together in a more mature...

In middle age. Yes.

Yes. Because this is a
middle-aged relationship.

Hollywood plays to the gallery.

Hollywood is the one that plays

two people wanting a love story.


Now I'm not mocking
it because it's

a love story.

I'm mocking it because it gives

only half the story.

We're watching the destruction

of a relationship from
the beginning of this play.

It's much more interesting than

just a love story.


He was disposed to mirth,

but on a sudden, a Roman
thought hath struck him.

Enobarbus. Madam?

Seek him and bring him hither.

My Lord approaches!

This is of course a tragedy

about the inevitable conflict
between two different ways

of life... The Roman
and the Egyptian.

We will not look upon him.

One of the keys to understanding

Antony's personality is
that Antony wants to have

the admiration, loyalty
of contradictory realities.

He wants to be a
Roman for the Romans,

he wants to live
up to his reputation,

he wants to live up to
what it is to be Mark Antony

in Roman terms.

For Cleopatra, he wants to
be the lover she asks him to be.

For Antony to reconcile
those demands seems to be

almost an impossibility,

which is why he keeps
changing from moment to moment.

Cleopatra is
clearly irresistible.

Antony may have a
wife back in Rome,

but his love for
the Egyptian Queen

has turned him
away from his duties

both as the noble Roman
ruler of the eastern Empire

and as a husband.

What are you?

Fulvia thy wife is dead.

Where died she?

In Sicyon. Her
length of sickness.

But when at the
start of the play

he receives the news
that his wife has died,

Antony has no choice
but to travel back to Rome.

I must from this
enchanting queen break off.

Ten thousand harms,
more than the ills I know,

my idleness doth hatch.

in London at the Globe Theatre

to drop in on a rehearsal

of one of the
play's early scenes.

Let's start by reading it,

and then we might stop.

Antony has returned to Rome.

Rome and Egypt are
portrayed very differently.

Here, it's patrician
pragmatic politics

rather than passions that rule.

Octavius Caesar,
Antony's fellow ruler

of the Roman Republic,

is unimpressed by Antony's
erotic Egyptian adventures.

In an effort to secure Antony's
continuing loyalty to Rome,

love is just a negotiating ploy.

Speak, Agrippa.

Thou hast a sister
by the mother's side,

admired Octavia.

Great Mark Antony
is now a widower.

To make you brothers
and knit your hearts

in an unslipping knot,

take Antony Octavia to his wife.

By this marriage,
all little jealousies

which now seem
great, and all great fears,

which do import their dangers,

would then be nothing.

The plan for Antony
to marry Octavius' sister

is a pivotal point in the play.

In aristocratic
and royal circles

in Shakespeare's time,
marriage was entirely

a political matter.

The idea of marriage
for love was dangerous,

and the play
precisely explores this.

Let me have thy hand.

Further this act of grace,

and from this hour, the
heart of brothers govern

in our loves and sway
our great designs.

There is my hand.

A sister I bequeath you

who no brother did
ever love so dearly.

Cleopatra's messenger returns to Egypt

to bring her news that
Antony is now married

to someone else.

Not a happy task.

Madam, madam.

Antony is dead!

If thy say so, villain,
thou killst thy mistress,

but well and free...

In the BBC's 1981 version,

the role of Cleopatra is
played by Jane Lapotaire.

First madam, he is well.

Why, there's more gold!

Cleopatra knows that
her emotional and political

future now depends on
whatever has happened in Rome.

Madam, he's well.

Well said.

And friends with Caesar.

Thou art an honest man.

Caesar and he are
greater friends than ever.

Make thee fortune!

But yet, madam.

I do not like "but yet."

It does allay the
good precedence.

Fie upon "but yet."

The Globe actors are
rehearsing this scene.

It is a famous one.

Hey. Hello.

Can I join?

What I love about Cleopatra

are her wildly
fluctuating mood swings,

but for the actor
playing the role,

they are a challenge,

and for the messenger,
they're a nightmare.

There's huge
tension in this scene.

It's sort of like a
sadistic lover situation

where you say, "Hate me,
love me, kiss me," you know.

Exactly, exactly.

When I told Peter Hall
that I was going to play this,

he said, "You must
remember one thing,

"that this character
changes on a sixpence.

"She changes in
the middle of line,

"in the end of a line.

She's just all over the place."

He doesn't know what's
going to come at him.

Yeah, and nor does...

It's fun to play.
Exhausting but fun to play.

And the point is, nor does she
know what's going to come out.

She doesn't know
whether she's gonna..

No, no, no, no.
There's a tiny pause...

"He's dead. No, he's alive.

OK, I'll make you rich.
I'll have a fab... no."

She's like crazy.
Exactly, exactly.

If thou say Antony lives,

is well or friends with Caesar

or not captive to him,

I'll set thee in a
shower of gold

and hail rich pearls upon thee.

Madam, he is well.

Well said. And
friends with Caesar.

Thou art an honest man.

Caesar and he are
greater friends than ever.

Make thee a fortune from thee.

But yet, madam.

I do not like "but yet."

It does allay the
good precedence.

Yeah. It's almost
like— She also has

that great sense of humor.

"I do not like but yet.

"You're gonna to get it now.

Don't you give that to me."

"Don't shoot the
messenger," the saying goes.

Well, both Antony and
Cleopatra do shoot the messenger,

or at least they beat
up the messenger.

It is a tragedy with powerful
elements of comedy.

I think there's a fright of
her coming that close to you.

It's not—you know,
she has so much power,

and you have nothing.

So her coming close
to you could be...

It's a threat every
single moment.

It really, really is. OK.

Finally, the messenger does manage

to deliver the fateful
news of Antony's marriage.

Madam, madam, he's
married to Octavia!

The most infectious
pestilence upon thee!

Good madam, patience!

What say you? Hence...

horrible villain,

or I'll spurn thy eyes
like balls before me.

Thou shall be whipped with wire

and stewed in brine,

smarting in lingering pickle.

Gracious madam, I
that did bring the news

made not the match.

She's extraordinary,
and what she offers

any actress is the
most amazing variety

of moods and
gestures and postures.

Madam, he's married to Octavia.

The most infectious
pestilence upon thee!

The thing about
Cleopatra always is that

she always is playing
for an audience.

She's always performing
for the onstage audience,

and the onstage audience
are the stand-ins for us.

She recognizes
herself as an icon.

He is married?

I cannot hate thee
worser than I do

if thou again say yes.

He's married, madam.

The gods confound thee!

Good. OK. OK. Yeah. Scary.

Just keep hitting
him. He's fine. Sorry.

Harriet Walter played Cleopatra

with Sir Patrick
Stewart as her Antony

in a 2006 RSC
production of the play.

The thing that daunts a
woman, I think, is this idea

of somebody who has
this affect on every man

she encounters, and
everybody falls in love with her,

and if you have never
been known for that quality,

you think, "Where am
I going to get it from?"

If it were just beauty
with a lot of makeup

and help and distance
on the auditorium,

you could perhaps achieve that,

but it's not about beauty.

It's about her brain,
it's about her mind,

it's about her verbal dexterity,

so I finally found
gosh, if you say those

words and commit
to them in that way

and you follow the rhythms
and the double-backs

and the tactics that she's got,

he's done it for you.

Mm-hmm. Yes.

She's—she's a consummate
actress, isn't she?

She is a total actress.

She's always on the world stage,

and many Shakespeare
heroines and heroes

are very conscious of the fact
that they're on a world stage.

Shakespeare creates
such an astonishing

dramatic character in
Cleopatra that it's easy

to forget that he based her
on a real Egyptian queen.

We know that
Shakespeare's main source

for the play was a book by
the Greek author Plutarch

that was already
1,500 years old,

but I'm interested to know how
much Shakespeare has played

with the historical reality

to write his tragic love story.

And ironically, it's back in
Antony's hometown of Rome

that I've come to
a special exhibition

exploring Cleopatra's history.

Cleopatra was from a
dynasty called the Ptolemies.

They ruled Egypt for 300 years,

and Cleopatra was
the last of this line.

And here she is.

Queen Cleopatra VII,
possibly the most famous queen

that ever lived,

the last of the Ptolemies.

2,000 years ago, Egypt was
effectively under Roman control,

and to protect her subjects,
Cleopatra had to make

tough political and
personal decisions.

She had affairs and children

with the two great
Roman leaders of the age,

first Julius Caesar
and then with Antony.

Was it love, or was it politics?

For someone like Cleopatra,

the problem is that
there was no idea

of any order of succession.

Any Ptolemy could be
king or could be queen,

and as a result, the
most dangerous people

you faced were your own family.

If you look at it,
Cleopatra's father

executed her older sister,

Cleopatra herself
gets Julius Caesar

to bump off one brother,

probably poisons the
other brother herself,

and gets Mark Antony to execute

her remaining
sibling, her sister.

And she did that
in the full knowledge

that they would have
done the same thing to her

if they'd had the opportunity.

So you live in
a climate of fear.

Staying in power was
about the only way

to stay alive.

That Cleopatra did
this for ore than 20 years

was an incredible achievement,

and it highlights that she
was a great political survivor.

So when she has
these affairs with Caesar,

with Mark Antony,
politics is there

behind the scenes all the time.

She needs this Roman support.

In many respects,
the Cleopatra you have

in Shakespeare's
play is quite close

to the Cleopatra of history.

What's really thrilling
about this is seeing

a character that you've
imagined and played,

but then there
she is in real life.

I did not see him since.

See where he is, who's
with him, what he does.

I did not send you.

If you find him sad,
say I am dancing.

If in mirth, report
that I am sudden sick.

Quick and retum.

Politics played such an important role

in the lives of
Cleopatra and Antony

that it's even caused
some to question whether

in Shakespeare's play
he intended their love

to be real or simply for
political convenience.

Vanessa Redgrave
has played Cleopatra

on numerous occasions.

Antony— I am convinced,

does not love her.


I am convinced he
does not love her.

He never loved Cleopatra?

He's turned on, excited by her,

but why is he so excited by her?

It's not because of her boobs,

it's not because of her skin.

No. He's excited by being

with the top, top
woman in the world.

He does not love her.

But he needs her.

He needs her.

Whatever Antony
did or did not feel

for Cleopatra, she
clearly saw something

in the aging Roman, but what?

To find out more
about his background,

I have to look at
Antony's first appearance

in Shakespeare

in another play
called "Julius Caesar."

In this, earlier
play, Julius Caesar,

leader of the Roman
Republic, is assassinated.

Antony, then a senator,
resolves to defeat

the assassins.

Speaking at Caesar's funeral,

the young, passionate
Antony is given

one of Shakespeare's
most iconic speeches,

a masterpiece of cloak
and dagger rhetoric.

Hear the words that have
echoed through the ages.

Friends, Romans, countrymen,

lend me your ears.

I come to bury Caesar,
not to praise him.

- I - come to bury Caesar,

not to praise him.

The evil that men
do lives after them.

The good is oft
interred with their bones.

So let it be with Caesar.

I'm back at the Globe Theatre,

where they're
rehearsing this speech.

Antony is clearly a
cunning politician.

Under the guise of
praising the conspirators,

he's actually undermining them.

The noble Brutus

hath told you Caesar
was ambitious.

If it were so, it was
a grievous fault.

And grievously has
Caesar answered it.

"Julius Caesar" is
thought to be one

of the first plays performed
at the Globe in 1599.

Just listening to this
speech, you can imagine

the impact that it had on
an Elizabethan audience.

Honorable man...

When that the poor hath cried,

Caesar hath wept.

Ambition should be
made of sterner stuff,

but Brutus says
he was ambitious,

and Brutus is an honorable man.

Was this ambition?

When comes such another?

Never! Never!

By the end of the speech,

Antony has expertly
turned the mob

against the conspirators.

Brutus is an honorable man.

Someone who can
appreciate Antony's use

of rhetoric is
Alastair Campbell,

one of Britain's best
known political spin doctors.

I vow that class
sizes will be down

in primary schools
and standards up in...

Working in the Labour Party

before and during
their years in power,

he wrote many speeches

for the former Prime
Minister Tony Blair.

Of England.

And Brutus is an honorable man!

So, Alastair, how would
you rate Shakespeare

as a political speechwriter?

I think he'd have been
as good as anybody.


And what was
interesting about that...

If you read the
words on the page,

there's all sorts of different
ways you can take it.

He never says anything
negative about anyone does he?

No, but the tone and the
constant repetition of "honorable,"

irony, "ambition,"

when he clearly doesn't believe

that that was the
reason why he was killed.

And slowly you see
in this clip the mob,

the ugly mob, turning.

It is manipulation.

Is that part of
what politicians do?

Well, I think certainly.

To get them on their side.

I mean, people see manipulation

as a very bad thing.

A negative thing, yes.

But actually if you are
trying to... what you are

trying to do is you
are... It is a performance,

and you're... in a sense,
the crowd, the audience

is part of the performance.

And I don't think
that's a bad thing

because the purpose
of a big speech is

to connect with the public,

most of whom aren't there,

but part of their
connection is seeing

the experience of the crowd.

Even today, speechwriters

still use Shakespeare's

as Barack Obama here in
this 2009 election campaign,

seemingly praises his opponents

and even uses the
concept of "honor."

All of the candidates in
this race have good ideas,

and all are patriots who served

this country honorably.

I think he's doing a little bit

of an Antony, isn't he?

Not quite as heavy.

With a simple creed

that sums up the
spirit of a people...

"Yes, we can.

Yes, we can."

It's amazing, isn't it?

In the sense that he's
using the same technique

really of these
buzzwords put together...

"Caesar is an honorable man,"

"Yes, we can"... All
of these seem to be

part of what is needed
in a speech to grab

the imagination.

Yes, we can.

I think, of all these
great speeches,

there's nothing that...

There's nothing
Shakespeare didn't write.

Or, thou, the greatest solider

of the world, art
turned the greatest liar.

How now, lady.

"Antony and Cleopatra" is
seemingly Shakespeare's

sequel to "Julius Caesar,"

but over a decade
later, Antony is no longer

the man he once was.

And what's interesting really

is how different the
two Roman history plays

are of Shakespeare's.


Because "Julius
Caesar" is this soldierly,

wonderful Antony.

Mmm. The hero.

The hero. Mmm.

And "Antony and Cleopatra,"

as if it was written
in another era,

another time...

That Antony's gone.

We have the struggle
of two Antonys,

the reputation of
the Antony that was

and the present muddled
and love-struck soul.


Our separation
so abides and flies

that thou residing
here goes yet with me,

and I hence
fleeting here remain.

Opposite Janet
Suzman's Cleopatra,

Richard Johnson played Antony.

I felt when I came
back to Antony

when I was in my 60s
that I was better suited

to the part.

I was coming to the
point in my career

where the great leading parts
were probably closing down

on me rapidly,
and that is in a way

how it is for Antony.

He was on the skids by then.

Both these people, the
hero and the heroine...

She's at the end of
her life as a sex symbol,

and she knew it,
and she knew that

those things upon
which she had relied

probably wouldn't help her now.

Every actor has to develop a way

of justifying Antony's
somewhat wayward behavior.

Sir Patrick Stewart,
in rehearsal here,

played Antony in 2006.

Nourishes our nerves

and can get goal
for goal of youth!

the things that helped me to play Antony

was to decide that
he was an alcoholic

and that drink was a
way of helping to hide

from some of the obvious
questions that he ought

to have been asking himself,

and he doesn't ask them.

Somewhere, he must
have a sense that Cleopatra

is a really bad idea.

I remember once
showing a friend of mine...

Somebody I'd started
dating years ago,

and I showed a photograph
of her to my friend,

and he looked at it,
and he said, "Run,"

and he proved to
be absolutely right!

That's what I should have done.

I should have run.

And really that's what...
Really what Antony

should have done... run.

To me, the idea of following

"Julius Caesar" with
the extraordinary story

of "Antony and
Cleopatra" seems obvious,

so it raises the question...
Why did Shakespeare wait

6 years before
writing this sequel?

It seems he timed
this play quite carefully.

Once Queen Elizabeth was dead,

Shakespeare in a sense was
free to write about a queen,

to make a Queen
the center of a play.

So Cleopatra,
this extraordinarily

charismatic figure
from ancient Egypt,

in some ways is Shakespeare
letting his hair down

after all those years
of inhibiting himself

in front of Queen Elizabeth.

I'm not saying Cleopatra
is a direct representative

of Queen Elizabeth,

but I think audiences
would have seen

some resemblances.

Elizabeth was famous
for using her sexuality

as a political tool,

she was famous for her
temper and for her wit,

and all these things of course,

Cleopatra has
absolutely in spades.

The barge she sat in,

like a burnished throne,
burned on the water.

Cleopatra clearly had the
power and the personality

to captivate anyone she met,

and Shakespeare gave the
most famous of all the speeches

praising her not to an Egyptian

but to a Roman, Antony's
right-hand man Enobarbus.

Enobarbus is part
of the whole sort of...

He made... he
helps make the myth.

He's the one that says—you
know, describes that...

The barge! Yes, yes.

The barge, you know,
and is partly in love

with her himself.

Age cannot wither her,

nor custom stale
her infinite variety.

Other women cloy
the appetites they feed,

but she makes hungry
where most she satisfies,

for vilest thing become...

This famous speech,
the barge speech,

gives us a fascinating insight

into Shakespeare's mind at work.

Plutarch's book, containing
a detailed account

of the lives of
Antony and Cleopatra,

was translated into English
by Sir Thomas North,

and we know that this
very translation is the one

that Shakespeare used.

How do we know this?

From that very
same barge speech.

Looking at the raw material,

you almost feel as if you're
in the room with Shakespeare,

looking over his shoulder.

Every single detail is there,

but each detail that
Shakespeare takes

he brings alive, he tums
it into a poetic image.

So you can read the
speech in Plutarch,

listen to Enobarbus'
development of that,

and you can exactly
see how Shakespeare's

poetic imagination works.

It's certainly true
that the similarities

between the two
texts are remarkable.

I wonder what Plutarch
would have thought

if he'd heard the
words he wrote...

She set forward in her barge

in the River of Cydnus.

Turned into immortal poetry
by William Shakespeare.

The barge she sat in,

like a burnished throne,

burned on the water.

The poop whereof was of gold,

the sails purple.

The poop was beaten gold,

purple the sails,

and so perfumed

that the winds were
lovesick with them.

She was laid under a
pavilion of cloth of gold tissue,

appareled and attired
like the goddess Venus.

She did lie in her pavilion,

cloth-of-gold of tissue,

o'er-picturing that Venus.

And hard by her,
on either hand of her,

pretty fair boys
appareled as painters

do set forth god Cupid.

On each side her stood
pretty dimpled boys,

like smiling cupids.

With little fans in their hands,

with the which they
fanned wind upon her.

With divers-colored fans,

whose winds did seem to glow

the delicate cheeks
which they did cool,

and what they undid did.

6 of Shakespeare's
tragedies are set

in ancient Greece or Rome,

but in "Antony and Cleopatra,"

his historical subject
would really stretch

the boundaries of
what you could do

in any conventional theater.

"Antony and Cleopatra" is
one of the more cinematic

plays that Shakespeare wrote.

No wonder it's been made
so many times into movies.

The action starts in Alexandria,

and then Antony leaves
Cleopatra to go back to Rome.

Now this was a fair
distance for Antony to travel,

but he kept being
drawn back to Cleopatra.

This silent movie—
Although shot in 1913...

Isn't the first screen
adaptation of the story,

but it certainly rose
to the challenge,

and despite the restrictions
of the technology of the time,

they used material
shot on location

in both Italy and Egypt.

There are more scenes
in "Antony and Cleopatra"

than in any other
Shakespearian play.

He works on a bigger canvas
than he had ever done before

or ever would again.

He's trying to show the
whole ancient world...

Rome, Egypt, and
everything in between,

and it's almost
cinematic in a way.

He jump cuts between
Rome and Egypt.

He sweeps across
the battlefield,

there's a succession
of short scenes.

I think Shakespeare's
deliberately pushing

the boundaries of the
theater to its extreme.

Antony, despite his
marriage to Octavia,

cannot resist
returning to Cleopatra.

His rival Octavius Caesar
uses that as one more excuse

to take sole power
of the empire.

He gathers an army
and sets sail to challenge

Antony to battle.

The worlds of Rome and
Egypt are about to collide.

Such a cinematic play
might be well suited

to an extravagant
Hollywood film set,

but Shakespeare
had no such facilities.

In fact, it's thought that
Shakespeare and his company

did perform the play
in a small theater called

the Blackfriars on the
north side of the Thames.

An indoor theater lit
entirely by candlelight,

seating only a tenth
of the people that could

fill the main Globe Theatre,

the performances
in this intimate space

were probably
aimed at the educated

and more wealthy
elite of London.

Hello, Dominic.

Next door to the
modern Globe Theatre,

they've recently completed
a copy of this space.

To give me a tour is the Globe's

artistic director
Dominic Dromgoole.

Oh my God! It's magical.

Isn't it gorgeous?

It is. It's beautiful!

It's a funny mix of tiny wee

and quite capacious.

Wow! The candlelight.

It's very forgiving, isn't it?

Ha ha ha!

Don't we all love it?

So you could play
Cleopatra in your 80s, 90s.

You could play
Cleopatra forever!


But a big effect on
costumes, as well,

in that... you know,
it makes sense

of what ruffs are.

Ruffs look a bit
daft occasionally,

but a ruff is alighting system.

Oh, yes!

A ruff is a bounce
back up to your face.

We used that on
"Sex and the City."

We would always ask for
the tablecloths to be white

so you had another source.

So you had a bit extra! Yes.

Do you think that because
of the Elizabeth Taylor

and the pomp and
circumstance of that film

when people come to
the theater they expect

to see all of that?

Because the two
productions that I've

done have been very
pared down, very simple,

and some people...
My mother was like,

"I wanted—I wanted
Hollywood," you know.

Yeah, yeah.

What are the challenges
of staging a play like

"Antony and Cleopatra,"
which is huge,

in a space this intimate?

I think it's more
opportunities than challenges.

Why they used
to do it in here...

And they used to love
doing it in a small space...

Because you can
play that love story

in a chamber mode,

and you can
play the truth of it,

and you can play two, you know,

wonderfully delicate egos

negotiating each
other and negotiating

their way round each other

with a sort of gentle truth.

It's quite beautiful, isn't it?

A theater by candlelight.

So inviting.

The audience is right there,

but it is a very intimate space

between the actors.

It begs to be
played, this theater.

But in this play,
intimacy is always

in conflict with the
big political events.

Is it not strange, Canidius,

that from Tarentum
and Brundusium

he could so quickly cut
the Ionian Sea and take in...

Octavius' army is
now on the horizon.

Celerity is ever more
than by the negligent.

A good rebuke, which
might have well become...

Antony has his own troops,

made up of Cleopatra's forces

and some of his
own loyal soldiers,

but against everyone's advice,

Antony decides to
fight Octavius at sea.

Your ships are not well manned,

your mariners are
muleters, reapers,

people ingrossed
by swift impress.

In Caesar's fleet are
those that often have

'gainst Pompey fought.

Their ships are
yare, yours, heavy.

No disgrace will
fall you for refusing

him at sea, being
prepared for land.

By sea, by sea!

Most worthy sir, you
therein throw away

the absolute soldiership
you have by land.

I fight at sea.

I have 60 sails,
Caesar none better.

But of course Caesar
does have better.

Cleopatra's navy retreats,

doting Antony follows suit,

and the private passion
of the famous lovers leads

to a very public defeat.

I mean, it's so carefully
calibrated, this play.

We think it's an
intimate love story,

but it really isn't.

There are soldiers and watchers

and serving people,

and they are always
on show, in public.

You always look for in
the Shakespeare plays

the public and the private.

There's hardly any
private in this play.

It's all enacted in public.

Even their final
failure is in public

when Cleopatra and her
fleet surrender to Octavius.

Vile lady.

Desperate and ashamed,
she retreats to her monument

and sends word to Antony that

she's killed herself.

Dead, then?


For Antony, this proves
to be the final blow.

Unarm, Eros.

He has a complete
breakdown of the kind

that is kind of, to me,
reminiscent of somebody

who's absolutely breaking
down into madness.

Thinking his great love is dead,

Antony is a broken man,
and he decides to die

a hero's death in
true, Roman fashion...

I will o'ertake thee.

Thy master dies thy scholar...

To do thus I learned of thee.

By falling on his own sword,

but even here, he fails.


How now! Not dead, not dead.

He makes every mistake...

Right. From the word go.

Aah! Dispatch me!

Antony is a botcher. This
Antony in "Antony in Cleopatra"...

At this point, yes...

No. From the
beginning of the play,

he's a botcher.

Every decision
he makes is wrong,

and she's watching
it and watching it.

It's like watching a car crash.

She just sees it in slow motion.

He's this great warrior,
and he can't kill himself.



Close to death, Antony is
carried to see Cleopatra,

and in a scene that
Shakespeare denied

his other great lovers
Romeo and Juliet,

Antony and Cleopatra
are brought together

for a final good-bye.

I can...

no more.

Noblest of men, woo't die?

As her lover dies in her arms,

Cleopatra's world comes
crashing down around her.

What Cleopatra becomes...

And Shakespeare, I
think, adores Cleopatra,

and Antony has died
only seconds before,

however long you take
to think Antony has died.

"There's nothing left remarkable

beneath the visiting moon".

And there is nothing
left remarkable

beneath the visiting moon.

Cleopatra's fainted, and
then she comes round,

and she's different.

The entire world is different

is what she realizes.

He's gone.

He's gone, so
everything is different.

Ah, women, women!

Look! Our lamp is spent.

With Antony gone,
in the tragic final act,

the stage is Cleopatra's,

and Shakespeare
gives her, I think,

the most beautiful
speech of the play

as she describes her dead
lover as the hero he tried

yet failed to be.

"I dreamt there was
an Emperor Antony.

"O, such another
sleep, that I might see

"but such another man!

"His face was as the heavens,

"and therein stuck
a sun and moon

"which kept their course

and lighted the
little O, the earth."

I think at the very
end of the play

and when she speaks
those amazing words

about him, then I
think we can say

here is where we
know she genuinely

and truly loves him.

His face was as the heavens,

and therein stuck a sun and moon

which kept their
course and lighted

the little O, the earth.

Most sovereign creature!

His legs bestrid the ocean,

his reared arm
crested the world.

If it might please ye...

Think you there
was, or might be,

such a man as this I dreamed of?

Gentle madam, no.

You lie.

Although distraught,
Cleopatra won't give up

as easily as Antony.

It's only when she learns
that Octavius intends

to strip her of her
kingdom and parade her

through the streets of
Rome as a war trophy

that she makes the
decision to leave this world

with an abiding memory
of her as the Great Queen.

So in the closing lines, she
prepares to commit suicide,

wearing all her
symbols of royalty.

Give me my robe,

put on my crown.

I have immortal longings in me.

There's a certain sort
of peace that comes

at the end when she's
finally made her decision.

This is it.

And it's not even a
decision that has to be

made for her anymore.

It's been made by the situation.

I played it as it was
slowly taking over,

she was sort of slowing down.

I mean, she
wasn't falling apart.

There was still
this effort of going...

Janet kept saying to me

"Pretend you're
getting into a spaceship

and you're going up."

Yeah, yeah, yeah.

There was this celebration of it

because it was on her terms.

Me thinks I hear Antony call.

With everything lost,

Cleopatra's only
thought is of Antony.

Husband, I come!

That's when she
really marries him.

That's when she decides,
"Right, together we will

be in heaven because
here on earth it just"...

Doesn't work.

It's a profound moment,
and of course she knows

that these are her
own last moments,

and when she says,
"Husband, I come,"

really what she is saying is

"Wait for me. I'm almost
there with you again.

"I'm almost reunited
with you again,

and I just have to
make it happen."

Now to that name my
courage prove my title.

I am fire and air.

My other elements
I give to baser life.

So, have you done?

Come then and take
the last warmth of my lips.

Farewell, kind Charmian.

Long farewell.

Have I the aspic in my lips?

Dost fall.

Come, thou mortal wretch...

This iconic scene is how
our memory of Cleopatra

lives on, the great
Egyptian queen,

with a poisonous
snake at her breast.

With thy sharp teeth, this knot

intrinsicate of
life at once untie.

It's a plan for
public immortality.

O, poor venomous fool,
be angry and dispatch.

O, couldst thou
speak that I might hear

thee call great Caesar ass.

I think what's really
satisfying about playing

this scene is that
the true character

of Cleopatra is
there to the very end.

Peace, peace!

Dost thou not see
my baby at my breast,

that sucks the nurse asleep?

She's had the love
of her life taken away,

her kingdom, her beloved
Egypt, her children,

but still she has the
strength to decide

for herself how
she wants to die.

This is so wonderful to play,

the strength of this woman.

It really is inspiring.

CHARMIAN: Break! O, break!

She's fearless to the end.

What should I stay...

Downy windows, close.

One of the most wonderful things

about a great Shakespeare
play is the journey

that the characters make

towards a kind of
emotional maturity

or revelation at
the end of the play.

The greatest reason why
we keep on doing these

damn plays is because
we watch somebody flower

and open and learn

and become something else

as the play proceeds.

The man is a genius.

The death of Antony and
then of Cleopatra seems

to mark the end of an era,

but their story
as told by history

and by Shakespeare has
made these real-life lovers

live on in our imagination.

In the manner of their
deaths, they triumph

over what they
weren't able to survive

in the real world.

I have a lot of
wonderful memories

playing Cleopatra.

One of them was
on closing night,

one of the other
actors coming up to me

and saying, "Well done.

When are you
going to do it again?"

That is the unending
challenge of Cleopatra,

and I think I will.

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