Alan Paul says the final scene in Shakespeare’s “Antony and Cleopatra” is unusually well suited to alternate interpretations. And with “Fire and Air,” a work he collaborated on with Bowen McCauley Dance, he’s getting the chance to try it.
“Cleopatra’s death is like none other in Shakespeare’s work,” he says. “She famously says, ‘I am fire and air; my other elements I give to baser life.’ Now if that line doesn’t deserve a dance, I don’t know what does.”
Paul is directing the piece, which will feature a rare performance by Lucy Bowen McCauley. It’s one of two world-premiering works slated for April 5-6 at the Kennedy Center’s Terrace Theater. Details are at bmdc.org.
Paul knows Shakespeare — he’s associate director at the Shakespeare Theatre Company in Washington and says he was fortunate to get a fellowship to work with the legendary Michael Kahn.
“Because of Michael’s belief in me, Washington has become my artistic home and a community I’m proud to be part of.”
Paul, 28, grew up in nearby Potomac, Md., and also lived in Chicago for a time. He now lives in Logan Circle and enjoys theater, opera, piano, travel and dinner with friends in his free time.
How long have you been out and who was the hardest person to tell?
I have been out since I was 15 and because I have always been in the theater, I was “in good company” from the start. Going to musical theater summer camp didn’t hurt.
Who’s your LGBT hero?
Meryl Streep. But she’s a hero to all humans, right?
What’s Washington’s best nightspot, past or present?
Describe your dream wedding.
Surrounded by my family and friends on a beach along the Pacific.
What non-LGBT issue are you most passionate about?
Arts funding in America!
What historical outcome would you change?
The 14 times Meryl Streep lost the Oscar.
What’s been the most memorable pop culture moment of your lifetime?
I wrote to Bob Mackie when I was 9 years old and he sent me a handwritten letter. That was definitely a moment to remember.
On what do you insist?
“Please” and “thank you.”
What was your last Facebook post or Tweet?
I posted a picture of the empty, but awe-inspiring, Strathmore Concert Hall. There is always something magical about an empty theater.
If your life were a book, what would the title be?
“Meals in My Car: How to Build a Career in the Arts”
If science discovered a way to change sexual orientation, what would you do?
I wouldn’t change a thing. We must accept people, and ourselves, as we are.
What do you believe in beyond the physical world?
I believe that the energy we get back from the world is often indicative of the energy we put into the world.
What’s your advice for LGBT movement leaders?
I am in awe of their bravery and their patient commitment to pursuing equality. We are all the direct beneficiaries of their hard work and I would rather take their advice than give my own!
What would you walk across hot coals for?
A juicy directing project!
What LGBT stereotype annoys you most?
I’m not easily annoyed.
What’s your favorite LGBT movie?
Does “A League of their Own” count? And wouldn’t it make a terrific Broadway musical? Are the stage rights available?
What’s the most overrated social custom?
Being politically correct.
What trophy or prize do you most covet?
Personal fulfillment is harder won and longer lasting than any trophies or prizes. Although, a Tony/Oscar/Golden Globe/Drama Desk/Obie/Olivier/BAFTA might be nice … (in any order)
What do you wish you’d known at 18?
During spring break of my senior year in college I met one of my heroes, Molly Smith, and she asked me to assistant direct her production of “Cabaret” at Arena Stage. That started it all and I moved to D.C.