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Professor Laborde warns against the reactivist response to
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Professor Dame Julia Goodfellow
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Cleopatra DVDs now on sale
19 June 2013
Watch the first performance of Daniel’s tragedy in at least four
Samuel Daniel’s neo-Senecan closet drama, The Tragedie of Cleopatra, was presented by the Centre for Early Modern Exchanges in March 2013. This was the first performance of Daniel’s tragedy in at least four hundred years.
DVDs of this rare and sold-out production are now available for research and teaching purposes and to anyone with an interest in Daniel and his Cleopatra.
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 arose from the PhD research of Yasmin Arshad (UCL, English) and brought together a talented production team from a wide range of UCL departments.
The production explored 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 also overturned 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.
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.
- For more on the project, see: http://thetragedieofcleopatra.wordpress.com/
This project was supported by UCL European Institute's call for proposals 2012-13