Cleopatra

Cleopatra, Egyptian Queen, was Egypt’s pride or shame, a pawn or a cunning linguist, a lover of emperors or destroyer of empires, a child-goddess or the last pharaoh of Egypt. She was killed by a hairpin, poison, or a snake. After she was killed by a hairpin or poison or a snake, Cleopatra was a soap, Elizabeth Taylor, a burlesque act, a font, a brand of oranges, Kim Kardashian, a perfume, Sophia Loren, a hair relaxer, or a perfume. None of these is the real Cleopatra.

Of their unique take on Cleopatra, Carson Beker and Nara Dahlbacka write: Two Cleopatras meet at a Halloween Party. They are vastly different and both are Cleopatra scholars, so one of them must be wrong. Over the course of the night/serial, they will conjure and shatter eight Cleopatras brought to life by 8 playwrights/ performers. They will argue, drink, fight, dance, fall in love, and risk their careers. Why are the stakes so high when the subject of the discussion has been dead for 2000 years, and can we ever know the real Cleopatra (or even ourselves)?

In collaboration with other playwrights and performers, Carson and Nara will conjure Eight Cleopatras through the projections culture and history have placed on her: beauty, power, whiteness, intelligence, sluttiness, cleverness, exoticness, seduction, and marketability. Over the course of the serial, two Cleopatra scholars in Cleopatra costumes at a Halloween party will argue, fight, dance, fall in love, and/or risk their careers over the question of who Cleopatra is, but why are the stakes so high when the subject of the discussion has been dead for 2,000 years, and can we ever know the real Cleopatra (or even ourselves)?

CLEOPATRA or NOT THAT CLEOPATRA or NOT CLEOPATRA: A SEARCH FOR THE UNKOWABLE QUEEN
by Carson Beker and Nara Dahlbacka
Including work by Patricia Reynoso, Cody Rishell, and Kitty Torres
Directed by Nara Dahlbacka with Carson Beker
A Serial Reading Performed on October 3, 4, 5, 10, 11, 12, 17 and 19, 2018 at the EXIT Theatre

“Not Cleopatra, Not That Cleopatra”
Written and Directed by Carson Beker and Nara Dahlbacka with Special Guests

Night One: October 3rd
“Cleopatra: Scent of a Mummy”
Cleopatra Detective Sketch Artist:
Roxanne: Jennifer McNeal
JJ/Detective: Moses Kaplan
Sketch Artist: Cody Rishell

Night Two: October 4th
Roxanne: Jennifer McNeal
JJ: Moses Kaplan
“Speak” by Kitty Torres
Cleopatra: Rebekah Kouy-Ghadosh
Urduja: Kristina May
Swietoslawa: Renee Rogoff
Arimatu: Jennifer McNeal
Derek: Jon Jordan

Night Three: October 5th
Roxanne: Jennifer McNeal
JJ: Moses Kaplan
“Lady Cleo”
Written and performed by Rachael Sykes

Night Four: October 10th
Roxanne: Jennifer McNeal
JJ: Moses Kaplan
“The Entity” by Patricia Reynoso
Roxanne: Jennifer McNeal
Entity 1 (The Leader): Kristina May
Entity 2 (The Seductress): Rebekah Kouy-Ghadosh
Entity 3 (The Angel of Death): Renee Rogoff

Night Five: October 11th
Roxanne: Jennifer McNeal
JJ: Moses Kaplan
“Dude Sings Cleopatra”
Songs written and performed by Jon Jordan

Night Six: October 12th
Roxanne: Jennifer McNeal
JJ: Moses Kaplan
“Young Queen and the Crocodile” by Nara Dahlbacka
Cleopatra: Kristina May
Crocodile: AJ Davenport

Night Seven: October 17th
Roxanne: Jennifer McNeal
JJ: Moses Kaplan
“The Endless Cleopatra Replication Terminal’ by Carson Beker
Young Roboticist: Jon Jordan
Senior Roboticist: AJ Davenport
Cleopatra 1: Renee Rogoff
Cleopatra 2: Jennifer McNeal
Cleopatra 3: Rebekah Kouy-Ghadosh
Cleopatra Bob: Moses Kaplan

Night Eight: October 19th
Roxanne: Jennifer McNeal
JJ: Moses Kaplan
“Cleopatra Perspective Retrospective”
Roxanne: Jennifer McNeal
JJ: Moses Kaplan
Cleo Chorus: Rebekah Kouy-Ghadosh, AJ Davenport, Renee Rogoff

Carson Beker is a playwright or a storyteller or the Queen of The Nile. Their work has appeared at Exit Theater, Custom Made’s Undiscovered Works Series, Foglifter, Gigantic Sequins, and elsewhere. They are the co-captain of The Escapery Pirate Art School. They stay away from hairpins, poisons, and/or snakes.

Nara Dahlbacka is a playwright or director or a poet or an activist or a poison or a hairpin or a snake. Her words have been on the stage at The Exit, Z Below, Playground SF, KCACTF, and Santa Barbara Playfest. She works in politics by day Theatre by the other minutes and hours. In every moment she is a hellion femmenazi banshee, you’re very welcome.

The images of Cleopatra on this page were created (from top to bottom) by: Donald Bolin, Rusty Jackson, and Rachel Vanderpool.

Come see the ‘Official’ image of Cleopatra be drawn live on stage on October 3rd!