|“Antony & Cleopatra, Forest Park, St. Louis, 05/22/2015;” watercolor on Canson 140lb cold press, Michael Anderson.|
“Antony and Cleopatra” is being performed nightly under the stars for free through June 14. This year is the 15th season for Shakespeare Festival St. Louis. Each year the festival alternates a comedy or tragedy but the production values, actors, costumes and set design are always top notch. In 2011 “The Taming of the Shrew” was presented in a 1950’s setting complete with a mid-century modern villa, 50’s style rock music and even a gold 1957 Cadillac convertible was driven on stage as part of the action. By contrast the current show is presented with only a very few props and a simple set comprised of 5 dramatically lit gold-leafed pillars on a raked stage. The wooded background of Forest Park completes the scenery perfectly. The spare design relies on Shakespeare’s language and your imagination to convey action, location and setting. I must admit I sometimes find Shakespearean syntax incomprehensible. Yet the meaning always comes across and in fact it always surprises me how many expressions we use in daily conversation originally appeared in the plays. In the first act Cleopatra says that these are her "salad days."
The link below is to a short video of Milton Glaser creating a portrait of Shakespeare while he explains the importance of drawing.