Over the past seven years I have been blessed to be a small part of the Oklahoma City theatre community, and it all began when Kathryn McGill cast me as Uncle John in the Centennial OSP production of Grapes of Wrath. It was powerful and poignant as a production, and it was remarkably the same for me as a person. New to Oklahoma and essentially without friends or family (except my wonderful cousins, the Harmers), I found that little ol’ OKC had/has a talented, deep, committed arts community – particularly in the performing arts. Shakespeare in the Park is a world-class example of that presence.
Since that time I have been fortunate enough to be a part of OSP’s activities as an actor, a board member, a professional volunteer and as Assistant Stage Manager this summer for the production of Antony and Cleopatra. I wanted to be a part of this production, directed by OU’s Judith Pender and assisted by Kae Koger. Dr. Koger became a friend when I took her Dramaturgy class at OU during my Masters studies there. She is inspiring with her curiosity and energy and her ability to share what is needed with each cast member. Dr. Pender and I worked together last summer on stage, and she is a remarkable talent as a director and an actress and a wonderfully inspiring leader. And then there was one of the joys of my academic experience this past semester when I took Shakespeare Tragedies under the now retired Dr. James Yoch, who spent fifty – count them 50 – years teaching Shakespeare at OU. He retired this past semester and I was fortunate enough to be in his class. We spent a great deal of time on Antony and Cleopatra, and I dug deep into the history of the two – particularly Marc Antony, whose trajectory as a man – ending at age 52 – is fascinating to me.
Well, things have come full circle as Kathryn and I are working together in this play. She IS Cleopatra, commanding the stage, manipulating the moments with sex appeal, power, energy and vulnerability in ways that mesmerize. Her partner in crime is Rick Nelson as Antony, a local pro who I have seen on stage but have grown as a student of the arts by watching his process.He is a beacon for actors young and old with his stage presence, the power of understanding he shares with the most subtle of Shakespeare’s lines.
Might you think about a trip to the Myriad Gardens for this performance? Don’t blame the heat – it has actually been quite nice during dress rehearsals and during the first performance. It’s a beautiful setting for a wonderful production. Go to OSP’s FB or website for more info. And if you do, please swing by the tech table on the main platform and say hi to me and the rest of the production crew.