Janina Birtolo continues her exploration of the lives of fascinating historical women with How Sharp the Serpent’s Tooth, an original one-woman play about Cleopatra, the Egyptian queen who gave rise to innumerable stories of romance and intrigue.
The last of the Ptolemy rulers, Cleopatra was educated, brilliant and beautiful. She was also willing to do what she deemed necessary to retain her kingdom. History has painted her as a woman who wielded sex as a weapon and also as the reason for Mark Antony’s downfall. Hollywood reinterpreted Cleopatra as a kohl-rim-eyed beauty rolled in a rug. Posters have confused her with Nefertiti.
So who was Cleopatra? And why has her story captivated people through the ages? The existing record seems to trigger more questions than concrete answers, but, if one looks beyond the surface, an image takes shape – an image of a strong, proud, intelligent and ruthless woman who knew how to lead.
Fully costumed, How Sharp the Serpent’s Tooth is a lesson in history and misconceptions, leadership and totalitarianism.
Janina is a graduate of Boston College and Boston University and holds a M.S in Television Broadcasting and a B.A in English. She is a freelance writer with articles that have appeared regularly in national and local publications including N Magazine, The Phil, Gulfshore Life, Times of the Island and Naples Illustrated. She was selected “Writer of the Year” in 2001 and served as field producer for Arts Edition Primetime produced on WGCU-TV.
In 2006, she won the Enny Award from N magazine for “Best Performing Artist, and in 2007, she was chosen “Best Local Entertainer” by Gulfshore Life.
It is difficult to list all her acting credits in this space. The page would overflow. But some of her acting credits include:Wit, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Later Life, The Tale of the Allergist’s Wife, Noises Off, Three Tall Women, The Sisters Rosensweig, Tony & Tina’s Wedding and many more. She has appeared on stage with The Naples Players, Theater Conspiracy and Naples Dinner Theater.
Along with her writing and acting credits, Janina also creates and performs her own original works of famous historical women. You will see her in and around Naples and Marco Island sharing the stories about some of the most famous women in history which include Sarah Bernhardt, Amelia Earhart, Gertrude Bell, Suor Maria Celeste, Abigail Adams, Mary Todd Lincoln to name a few.
She has become a fixture here at TMP as part of our Lunch Box Series on Saturdays. This is her fifth season with us. This season she presents the story of journalist, Ida Tarbell.