John Douglas Thompson and Nicole Ari Parker to Star in Antony and Cleopatra Reading | Playbill

Off-Broadway News John Douglas Thompson and Nicole Ari Parker to Star in Antony and Cleopatra Reading

Part of Red Bull Theater's Revelation Reading Series, the performance is being directed by Arin Arbus.

John Douglas Thompson and Nicole Ari Parker

Off-Broadway's Red Bull Theater, in association with The Acting Company, will present a reading of William Shakespeare's Antony and Cleopatra. The reading, the newest offering in their OBIE Award-winning Revelation Readings series, will be held at the Lucille Lortel Theatre March 25.

Directed by Arin Arbus, the production will star Douglas Thompson and Nicole Ari Parker as the titular couple. They will be joined by Isabel Arraiza, Jimonn ColeDakin MatthewsTom PecinkaMatthew Rauch, and Derek Smith, with more to be announced.

Parker replaces the previously announced Audra McDonald, who withdrew due to a scheduling conflict.

Said Tanya Pollard, Professor of English at CUNY's Brooklyn College and the Graduate Center in a statement, “Antony and Cleopatra is one of only two Shakespeare plays to include a woman’s name in its title. This unusual framing identifies the play, like Romeo and Juliet, as a love tragedy, an intrinsically hybrid genre combining tragedy’s emphasis on a powerful man’s fall with comedy’s focus on the pleasure of surrendering to passion. It also signals a surprising balance of the sexes. Performed by apprentice boy actors, Shakespeare’s women typically have smaller roles than their male counterparts, but even with fewer lines, Cleopatra repeatedly interrupts and upstages Antony with demands, declarations, threats, and laments. Even more significantly, by outlasting and memorializing him, she claims the final word in shaping their story. Just as she refuses to be overshadowed by her famous lover, she similarly refuses to surrender to Rome’s imperial power. In the play’s contest between empire against love, Cleopatra might lose the battle, but she wins the war: Rome ultimately defeats Egypt, but Antony, as well as dignity, remains hers. The play’s Roman characters repeatedly express bewilderment at Cleopatra’s power over their storied hero: who is she, to ensnare Antony?"

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