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Starts: Jun 1, 2013 12:00:00 AM
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Starts: May 7, 2013 12:00:00 AM
Samuel Daniel's Tragedie of Cleopatra
Publication date: Jan 25, 2013 12:00:00 AM
Mar 3, 2013 2:00:00 PM
End: Mar 3, 2013 9:00:00 PM
3 March 2013
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Samuel Daniel’s Tragedie of Cleopatra (1594) is the first English drama about Cleopatra and a source for Shakespeare’s Antony and Cleopatra. This production arises from the PhD research of Yasmin Arshad (UCL, English) and brings together a talented production team from a wide range of UCL departments.
The production will explore early modern attitudes to race and national identity. The play centres on tensions between Egypt and Rome and on a non-European heroine who is fascinatingly different from Shakespeare’s Cleopatra in her nobility and stoicism. It is a sequel to Mary Sidney’s translation of Robert Garnier’s Antonie, making it an English play about an Egyptian queen inspired by a translation from French of a neo-Senecan tragedy. As such it demonstrates that cultural dialogue across and beyond Europe was the engine of artistic and intellectual innovation in the early modern period.
The production will also overturn the widespread perception that women did not participate in drama in Shakespeare’s time. Although female roles were taken by boys in commercial playhouses such as the Globe, Daniel’s play belongs to a genre (sometimes called ‘closet drama’) performed in country house settings with actors including women. Excitingly, Yasmin Arshad has discovered a portrait of a Jacobean lady in costume as Cleopatra, inscribed with lines from Daniel’s play.
By investigating the history of relations between performance, race, and gender in early modern Europe this production will enhance our understanding of these issues in the present.
This project is supported by UCL European Institute's call for proposals 2012-13