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McCraney's 'Antony and Cleopatra' has its cast

IMG_Tarell_McCraney_port_2_1_6V362J91Tarell Alvin McCraney's set-in-Haiti version of William Shakespeare's Antony and Cleopatra, a collaborative effort by South Florida's GableStage, Great Britain's Royal Shakespeare Company and New York's Public Theater, now has its Mark Antony, its Cleopatra, an international cast and a full creative team.  And the production, which will debut at the RSC's Swan Theatre in Stratford-upon-Avon Nov. 7-30 before moving to Miami Beach's Colony Theater Jan. 11-Feb. 9 and the Public Feb. 18-March 23, involves a trio of grads from Miami's New World School of the Arts.

First among them, of course, is McCraney, who graduated from New World's high school then went on to earn degrees from DePaul University and the Yale School of Drama.  The Miami-raised playwright, a rising star in the United States and England, has moved the action of the play to the late 1700s in Saint-Domingue on the eve of the Haitian Revolution against the French.  He is also directing the play, which begins rehearsals this month in England,

Haitian-American choreographer Gelan Lambert, also a New World grad, will create the production's dances and movement.  And New World graduate Charise Castro-Smith, an actor, playwright and Yale Drama School grad, has been cast as Iras and Octavia.

Five of the play's performers are American:  Castro-Smith, Joaquina Kalukango (Cleopatra), Ian Lassiter (Agrippa and Thyreus), Chivas Michael (Mardian, Eros and The Soothsayer), and Henry Stram (Lepidus and Proculeius).  England's Jonathan Cake will play Mark Antony, with fellow British performers Samuel Collings (Octavius), Ash Hunter (Pompey, Alexas and Scarus), Chukwudi Iwuji (Enobarbus) and Sarah Niles (Charmian and Menas) rounding out the cast.

The set is being designed by the RSC's Tom Piper, with Stephen Strawbridge doing the lighting and Michael Thurber composing the music.

GableStage is doing its run of Antony and Cleopatra at the Colony on Miami Beach's Lincoln Road because of the venue's greater seating capacity.  In addition to regular performances, the company will bring in Miami-Dade County students to experience McCraney's action-packed take on Shakespeare at special free shows.

For information on Antony and Cleopatra in South Florida, call the GableStage box office at 305-446-1116 or visit the theater's web site.

                                (Photo of Tarell Alvin McCraney by George Schiavone)