Male Cleopatra to Lead 1999 Globe SeasonDate: 7 December 1998
Shakespeare's Antony and Cleopatra, currently playing at the National Theatre with Alan Rickman and Helen Mirren as the ill-fated couple, will headline the Globe Theatre's repertory next summer. But this promises to be a very non-traditional production of the classic - not least of all because 37-year-old Mark Rylance, the theatre's artistic director, plans to cast himself as the Egyptian queen.
Originally, of course, in Shakespeare's day, female parts were played by males - but they were boys, not men. This past summer, the Globe returned to this practice with the smaller female roles in Henry V being played by boys. But next summer's production will the the first time in living memory that a mature male has performed the part of Cleopatra for such a major international company.
The Globe has confirmed that Rylance will play the part as a woman and will be dressed in hand-made costumes tailored for him. The part of Antony has not yet been cast, but the Globe insists that, despite the unconvential casting, the production will evoke the passion of the doomed relationship.
The Globe, an open-air theatre whose season runs from May to September, is not due to announce its full 1999 summer season until February when booking opens.