~90 minutes (no intermission)
A Host of People
Trade School: PHL+Detroit
A Host of People would like to acknowledge that we are grateful to work, live and play on Indigenous Anishinaabe land, and are doubly grateful to be guests performing on the ancestral land of the Lenape people.
A note about Cleopatra Boy: We will never know what Cleopatra was truly like, much of her presence has been lost to time—actively erased by her enemies—and her story and image have been manipulated in the millenia since her death, for many reasons, by many people. With this work, we attempt to unearth some truths about the last Pharaoh of Egypt that have been overshadowed by the image that has been created for her by others for their own purposes—a practice that continues for her, women, people of color and LGBTQIA+ leaders to this day. But there is one thing that almost all who study and write about Cleopatra can agree on—she loved theatricality...a good show! And we do too. We hope you enjoy this one.
Conceived and directed by Sherrine Azab and Jake Hooker
Created WithChris Jakob
Torri Lynn Ashford (voiceover)
Sam Waylon Watson*
*These roles were originally created and performed by Costa Kazaleh Sirdenis & Eleni Theodora Zaharopolous
Director: Sherrine Azab
Co-Director & Projection Designer: Jake Hooker
Set & Costume Designer: Dorothy Melander-Dayton
Lighting Designer: Chantel Gaidica
Dance Director: Maddy Rager
Technical Director: Charlie Gaidica
Composers: Costa Kazaleh Sirdenis & Shane Chapman
Stage Manager: Vanessa Mukes
Vocal Arrangements: Morgan Hutson & Salākastar
Cleopatra Poems: Kamelya Omayma Youssef
About the EnsembleA Host of People is multi-racial, queer-centered Detroit-based ensemble theater company creating original work that celebrates complexity, imagination, and the synthesis of seemingly disparate elements—at once epic and intimate, political and personal, poetic and approachable. AHOP creates aesthetically rigorous, intellectually challenging theater that is also warm, welcoming, and inspiring to people from all walks of life. All of our programming moves the company in this direction. We choose our subject matter and themes very carefully with an eye to stories, topics, and aesthetic approaches that will be equally thrilling to the most adventurous theater fans as well as those with less exposure to the form. We invite our audience into our art as we would guests into our home, whether it is in a house, on the street, in a gallery or in a theater.
Sherrine Azab (she/her) co-conceives and directs AHOP’s productions as well as facilitates the ensemble’s day-to-day workings. She is a director, producer, and educator and has worked in Detroit, Seattle, New York, and Berlin. Sherrine holds a BFA from Cornish College of the Arts in Seattle and a postgraduate certificate from the Institute for Curatorial Practice in Performance at Wesleyan University, and was a member of the 2008 Lincoln Center Director’s Lab. She was a 2017-18 UMS Artist in Residence, a 2018 Kresge Arts in Detroit Fellow, and has worked with the Arab American National Museum (Dearborn), The Foundry Theatre (NYC), Ping Chong + Co (NYC) and the Network of Ensemble Theaters. She is a proud Associate Artist at Target Margin Theater (NYC). Beyond her artistic/theater life, but woven in and related to it, some additional training of note include participation in the Emergent Strategy Immersion Training in 2018 and as well as intensives with the International Institute of Restorative Practice. (SA)
Salākastar (Performer, Vocal Arrangements) is an actor, singer-songwriter, writer and teaching artist working in television, film, theatre and music. She earned her BFA and completed her classical acting training at The State University of New York at Purchase College. She is an ensemble member at A Host of People. She founded her record label Salākastudios in 2020. She is a recipient of a 2018 Gilda Award and 2020 Kresge Artist Fellow in Live Arts awarded by the Kresge foundation. She was most recently featured on HBO’s Random Act of Flyness and in Detroit ‘67 at the Detroit Public Theatre. She is grateful to be back in the theatre.
Follow her on instagram @salakastar www.salakastar.com
Chantel Gaidica (Lighting Designer) is the resident Lighting Designer and a Core Ensemble Member of A Host of People and is proud to be working with this incredible team of artists. Chantel is a graduate of New York University, Tisch School of the Arts and in addition to her work with A Host of People she works as a freelance designer and producer. Love and thanks to Charlie, and her work on this show is dedicated to her spirited and hilarious daughters, Lucelenia and Claudia. www.chantelgaidica.com (CG)
Jake Hooker is a writer, director, projection designer, scholar, and educator. With A Host of People, his work with A Host of People ranges from generating text, including many poems, designing video, projections, and technology, dramaturgy, co-directing, and even occasionally performing. He is a 2018 Kresge Artist Fellow and an Associate Artist with Target Margin Theatre in NYC. Prior to co-founding AHOP, his work had been seen in Seattle, New York, Berlin, and the UK at venues such as HERE, Dixon Place, The Chocolate Factory, La Mama, The Bushwick Starr, The Ohio Theater, Ida Nowhere and many others. He was the Company Manager and Assistant Director for Big Dance Theatre (NYC), as the recipient of a 2005-2007 TCG New Generations Grant. He holds a BFA in Original Works from Cornish College of the Arts in Seattle, an MA in Performance Studies from the University of Wales and a PhD from CUNY Graduate Center. He teaches theatre at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor.
Morgan Hutson (Performer, Vocal Arrangements) is a multidisciplinary artist and teacher with a focus on freedom. Originating from Detroit’s west side, a place rich in community, she utilizes the power of the collective in her work by tapping into the various roots that have nourished her growth. She is ecstatic and highly grateful to perform Cleopatra Boy with AHOP. After completing courses at Syracuse University’s BFA Musical Theater program, she went on to perform as a musician under the moniker, Supercoolwicked. Her complex and layered identities have manifested into various forms of the arts in diverse spaces ranging the Detroit Institute of Arts to the Foundation Hotel, the Kindred Festival held in Detroit’s historic Roosevelt Park, and the Earthworks Harvest Gathering at Earthworks farm. Follow the fire and get to know her on Instagram @supercoolwicked.
Chris Jakob (they/them) is a queer, non-binary artist floating between Detroit and New York City. Holding a BA in Theatre from University of Detroit Mercy, they are a multi-disciplined performance artist (actor, singer, dancer, poet, and playwright) focused on the creation of fresh, thought-provoking, experimental work. Chris is a 2020 Kresge Artist Fellow and core ensemble member of A Host of People (AHOP). One of their most recent short films, The Call, co-created with Salakastar and Costa Kazaleh Sirdenis, was featured as a part of Detroit Narrative Agency’s film series Ethics & Aesthetics (2020) and included in the showing of the series at Museum of Contemporary Art of Detroit (MOCAD) in Spring 2021. They have also performed at Detroit Repertory Theatre, The Ringwald Theatre, the Jewish Ensemble Theatre, Planet Ant, Matrix Theatre (where they are also a teaching artist), and with Shakespeare in Detroit. Recent work includes the debut of their short film for their Kresge Fellowship in collaboration with Desmond Love, the showing of their art film from Detroit, with love with Matrix Theatre in 2020, the world premiere of Cleopatra Boy with AHOP in Detroit 2019, previews of their new solo-performance-choreopoem LOGOS at Sidewalk Festival 2019, previews of anagoge. at Sidewalk Festival 2018 and Cleopatra Boy with AHOP at FURY Factory Festival 2018 in San Francisco, and tour of their play I, Too, Sing America, produced by the Michigan Opera Theatre, as well as an artist residency at Cleveland Public Theatre and the North American Cultural Lab (New York) with AHOP. Art is long, life is short. IG: @chris.o.jakob // www.chrisjakob.com
Dorothy Melander-Dayton is a theater maker and artist. She obtained her Bachelor’s in Visual Studies from the University of Pennsylvania in 2011 and her Master’s in Performance Design and Practice from Central Saint Martins, University of the Arts London in 2014. Dorothy has been working as a designer and core ensemble member with A Host of People since 2015. In addition to working with AHOP, Dorothy is a freelance theater designer and artist, maintaining a practice that encompasses live and mediated performance, video, and installation. She has worked internationally in Greece, the UK, Germany, Japan, Taiwan, Italy, and Mexico. Dorothy shares her time between Detroit and Santa Fe. Website: surrenderdorothy.org Instagram: dorothy505
Maddy Rager, Dance Director (They/Them) is a Metro Detroit-based dance/theater artist who received a BFA in Dance from the University of Michigan in 2014. Maddy is a co-organizer of local dance organization Collective Sweat Detroit and makes work with their collaborator Scott Crandall under the name Thank You So Much For Coming. Thank You So Much For Coming received a 2020 Gilda Award in Live Arts Awarded by Kresge Arts in Detroit. Maddy is from Bellaire, MI and graduated from the Interlochen Arts Academy in 2010. Thankyousomuchforcoming.com (MR)
Sam Waylon Watson (They/Them) is a performer, gardener, builder, and adventurer. They received an MA in Performance Studies from King’s College, London in 2013, and started working with A Host of People pretty immediately upon their return in 2014. They worked as a performer/creator in Life is Happening to Us Again, The Modern Woman, Re-Release Party (The Golden Record), and Neither There, Nor Here. They worked as a performer, creator, and community engagement producer on The Harrowing, which is when it really hit home that they want to spend the bulk of their life outside with as many plants and bugs as possible. If interested in building radical, sustainable, intersectional, anti-racist, queer community in deep relationship to land and food, please reach out to them at firstname.lastname@example.org. (SWW)
Danté Jones is a native Detroiter who hails from many tribes of creatives, innovators, and survivors. Danté began his artistic journey at the Mosaic Youth Theatre of Detroit. After, they made their professional debut on the stage of The Detroit Repertory Theatre in the state's premier of Finding the Burnett Heart. Since, they went on to earn his BFA from Wayne State University where he learned and performed on stages such as the Hilberry Theatre, The Bonstelle Theatre, and The Allesee Theatre at the Charles H Wright Museum. With his degree and certification from the MXAT in possession, Danté began to work in the artistic community from whence he came with arts organizations such as, A Host of People, as Creative Director of The Fashion Massacre, and more consistently with Shakespeare in Detroit. He went on to collaborate in the premiere production of Jessica Care Moore's Salt City. Most recently (2022), they have had the honor of working with the 48 Hours in Detroit Play Festival with Detroit Public Theatre, the New Works Play Festival with the Flint Repertory Theatre, and is honored to return to friends in A Host of People's Cleopatra Boy. They would like to thank AHOP for trusting me with this work and dedicate this show to Carol, his mother... The first to teach him what it is to be a multifaceted survivor. (DJ)
Vanessa Mukes, Stage & Ensemble Manager (she/her) is excited to be the new Stage and Ensemble Manager at A Host of People. She has been working in stage production at her local church theater for 5 years. Vanessa really enjoys being part of a team and a creative process that entertains people. She is passionate about supporting work onstage from behind the scenes.
Funders/Producing PartnersCleopatra Boy was made possible with funding by the New England Foundation for the Arts' National Theater Project, with lead funding from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation and additional support from the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation
Additional funding by the Mental Insight Foundation and Michigan Council for Arts and Cultural Affairs
In addition, Cleopatra Boy received development support at Ko Festival of Performance in Amherst, MA (2017), FURY Factory Festival of Ensemble and Devised Theater’s Raw Materials program in San Francisco, CA (2018), Cleveland Public Theatre in their Test Flight program in Cleveland, OH (2019), and previewed with an excerpt performance at the Sidewalk Festival in Detroit (2019)
Special ThanksCandace Feldman, Leslie Wacker, Billy Mark, Bethany Hedden, Darren Shelton, Raymond Bobgan, Kathryn Grabowski, Kresge Arts In Detroit, Cezanne Charles, Baraa Ktiri, The Philadelphia Thing & Trade School
Selected Sources Used in the Creation of Cleopatra Boy
- Ansari, Hamied. Egypt, the Stalled Society. SUNY Albany: State University of New York Press, 1986.
Beard, Mary. Women & Power: A Manifesto. New York: Liveright, 2017.
Cooney, Kara. When Women Ruled the World: Six Queens of Egypt. New York: National Geographic, 2018.
Dauth, Brian. Pictures will talk: The life and films of Joseph L. Mankiewicz. Jackson: University Press of Minnesota, 2008.
Fletcher, Joann. Cleopatra The Great: The Woman Behind the Legend. London: Harper Perennial, 2012.
Foreman, Laura. Cleopatra’s Palace : In Search of a Legend. Del Mar, Calif.: Discovery Books, 1999.
Forster, E. M. Alexandria : A History and a Guide. Woodstock, N.Y.: Overlook Press, 1974.
Goldsworthy, Adrian. Antony and Cleopatra. New Haven: Yale University Press, 2010.
Hanauer, Cathi, and Ellen Gilchrist. The Bitch in the House : 26 Women Tell the Truth about Sex, Solitude, Work, Motherhood, and Marriage. New York: William Morrow, 2002.
Hughes-Hallett, Lucy. Cleopatra: Histories, Dreams, & Distortions. New York: Harper-Collins, 1990.
Murphy, Cullen. Are We Rome? : The Fall of an Empire and the Fate of America. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Co., 2007.
Ness, Daniel W. Van, and Karen Heetderks Strong. Restoring Justice, Fifth Edition: An Introduction to Restorative Justice. Waltham, MA, USA: Anderson, 2014.
Plutarch, and John Langhorne. Plutarch’s Lives. New ed. carefully rev. and corr. Baltimore: William & Joseph Neal, 1836.
Preston, Diana. Cleopatra and Antony: Power, Love, and Politics in the Ancient World. London: Walker Books, 2009.
Said, Edward W. Culture and Imperialism. New York: Knopf, 1993.
Schiff, Stacy. Cleopatra: A Life. New York: Back Bay Books, 2011.
Shakespeare, William. Antony & Cleopatra, Annotated edition. London: Simon & Schuster, 2005.
Shaw, George Bernard. Caesar & Cleopatra. New York: Penguin Classics, 2006.
Zehr, Howard. The Little Book of Restorative Justice: Revised and Updated. Brattleboro: Good Books Press, 2015.
FILM & TELEVISION
- All About Mankiewicz. Luc Béraud, director. Filmédis and Janus Film, 1983.
Caesar & Cleopatra. Gabriel Pascal, director. Gabriel Pascal Productions, 1945.
Cleopatra. Cecil B. Demille, director. Paramount Pictures, 1934.
Cleopatra. Joseph L. Mankiewicz, director. 20th Century Fox, 1963.
Cleopatra. Franc Roddam, director. Hallmark Entertainment, 1999.
Due notti con Cleopatra. Mario Mattoli, director. Giuseppe Colizzi, producer, 1954.
Rome (TV Series) season 1, episode 8: “Caeserion.” HBO & BBC, 2005.
Secrets of the Dead: Unearthing History (TV Series). Season 15, Episode 4: “Cleopatra’s Lost Tomb.” PBS, 2016.
WEBSITES & PODCASTS
- International Institute of Restorative Practice. https://www.iirp.edu/.
National Association of Community and Restorative Justice. https://www.nacrj.org/.
Transform Harm. https://transformharm.org/restorative-justice/ .
Morris, Wesley & Jenna Wortham. “Still Processing” season 2, episode 1: “Apology.” June 10, 2019.