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UCL Culture Blog


News and musings from the UCL Culture team


Egypt on the Stage: A Tale of two Queens

By Edmund Connolly, on 20 April 2014

Egypt has had many theatrical incarnations, one of the most famous, and my favourite, being Shakespeare’s epic The Tragedy of Anthony and Cleopatra, which forged a time defying reflection of Cleopatra Philopator, and Queen Elizabeth I, the Virgin Queen.

Most probably written around 1606 this play can be studied in conjunction with the preceding Macbeth as a play about monarchy, rulership and conquest. The two protagonists (Cleo. and Mac.) could be compared as a good and bad example of monarch; I like to think Cleopatra is definitely the paragon.

Elizabeth Taylor as Cleopatra in 1963 film. copyright 20th Century Fox, sourced www.imdb.com

Elizabeth Taylor as Cleopatra in 1963 film. copyright 20th Century Fox, sourced www.imdb.com


Divorce, Adultery and Revenge: an alternate Valentine’s Day

By Edmund Connolly, on 14 February 2014

Valentine’s Day can be an arduous 24 hours of franchised affection and a reminder that being single is not socially commendable.  To play the merry dissenter, and offer those of you who are not a fan of the day, I will celebrate 4 archaeological heroes who flew in the face of Valentine’s lucid message and offer a far more commendable representation of love.

A rather intimate cupid and Jupiter by Raimondi. UCl Art Museum 1684

A rather intimate Cupid and Jupiter by Raimondi. UCl Art Museum 1684


Cleopatra (Κλεοπάτρα Φιλοπάτωρ)

By Edmund Connolly, on 30 January 2013

Upcoming event: Caesar and Cleopatra, February 6th 2013

By Andie Byrnes

Britain’s first million-pound film, starring Vivien Leigh and Claude Rains, was Caesar and Cleopatra.  Based on George Bernard Shaw’s 1901 play of the same name, with a screenplay written by Shaw, it opened on 12th December 1945 in the Odeon at Marble Arch in London, and was released in the U.S. in September 1946.  It is showing at the Petrie Museum of Egyptian Archaeology (Malet Place, London WC1E 6BT), hosted by John J. Johnston, on February 6th 2013.

Made during World War II, it was hoped that the investment of over £1,250,000 into the film would help to establish Britain in the American cinematic market.    Filmed in Technicolor, it took two years to complete, most of it set within a custom-built studio in Denham, England. Over 500 pieces of jewellery and 2000 costumes were created for the film and 400 tons of sand were imported into the Denham studio.  The largest scene included more than 1500 actors.  Conceived on an epic scale, it produced an Academy Award Nomination for Best Art Direction for John Bryan.  The main stars of the film, Claude Raines, Vivien Leigh and Stuart Granger, were all household names.  Vivien Leigh was particularly famous for her role as Scarlett O’Hara, six years earlier, in Gone With The Wind, which was one of the highest-grossing films of all-time.