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The Winter's Tale

By William Shakespeare

Click Here to read an article by David Patrick Stearns of the Philadelphia Inquirer.

Directed by Guy Hollands

January 31 - March 3, 2013

Main Stage

Internationally-acclaimed director Guy Hollands joins us from Scotland to reinvent this tale of kings and queens, revenge and betrayal, spanning countries, seasons, decades, and generations. Inspired by ancient pagan festivals, our Winter’s Tale will feature live music, dance, food and merriment. Join us for this celebration of transformation and the healing powers of forgiveness. Best appreciated by audiences 10 and up.

Running time: 2 hours, 50 minutes with intermission

The Players

Autolycus, a rogue

Leontes, King of Sicilia
Hermione, Queen to Leontes
Mamillius, young Prince of Sicilia
Perdita, daughter to Leontes and Hermione
Camillo, Lord of Sicilia
Antigonus, Lord of Sicilia
Paulina, wife to Antigonus
Emilia, Lady-in-waiting to Hermione
First Lady, Lady-in-waiting to Hermione
Other Lords and Gentlemen of Sicilia

Polixenes, King of Bohemia
Florizel, Prince of Bohemia
Shepherd, reputed father of Perdita
Clown, Shepherd’s son
Mopsa, shepherdess
Dorcas, shepherdess
Other Shepherds, Shepherdesses, Satyrs, and Musicians

The Winter’s Tale Plot Synopsis

Act 1, scene 1. Leontes’ palace.
Leontes attempts to convince his childhood friend, Polixenes, to extend his visit that has already lasted nine months. Both discuss their remarkable sons. Unable to persuade Polixenes, Leontes elicits the help of his wife, Hermione, who is 9 months pregnant. When Hermione succeeds in persuading Polixenes to stay, Leontes becomes jealous of the affection between Hermione and Polixenes. Convinced they are having an affair, Leontes orders a reluctant Camillo to poison Polixenes. Camillo knows that Polixenes and Hermione are innocent, warns Polixenes of Leontes’ intent, and escapes to Bohemia with Polixenes and his train of servants.

Act 2, scene 1. Leontes’ palace.
Hermione’s women attendants play with Mamillius and Hermione asks him to tell a story. Leontes discovers that Polixenes and Camillo have fled and believes they had been plotting against Leontes’ life. Leontes publicly accuses Hermione of adultery and Camillo of treason. Antigonus and other Lords defend Hermione. Leontes tells them that he has sent messengers to the oracle in Delphos to confirm his suspicions.

Act 2, scene 2. Prison in Sicilia.
Paulina is denied access to Hermione, but speaks with Emilia and discovers that Hermione has delivered a daughter while in prison. Paulina plans to present the baby to Leontes to calm his unfounded anger.

Act 2, scene 3. Leontes’ palace.
Leontes inquires about Mamillius, who has been ill since Hermione was accused of adultery. Paulina presents the baby to Leontes, but he believes it is Polixenes’ child and orders for the baby and Hermione to be burned. At the appeal of his Lords and Antigonus, Leontes then orders Antigonus to take the baby to a remote place and abandon it. A servant announces that messengers sent to the oracle have returned to Sicilia.

Act 3, scene 1. Leontes’ palace.
Hermoine is placed on trial and maintains her innocence. The oracle is read, proclaiming that Hermione, Polixenes, and Camillo are innocent and that Leontes will not have an heir if the banished baby is not found. Leontes rejects the oracle. A servant announces that Mamillius has died. Hermione faints and is taken out. Leontes repents. Paulina reenters and pronounces that Hermione has died and rages at Leontes. Leontes vows to mourn eternally.

Act 3, scene 2. The shores of Bohemia.
Antigonus arrives with a Mariner on the shores of Bohemia. He recounts a dream he had of Hermione and names the baby Perdita. Antigonous leaves the baby, but is then pursued and killed by a bear. The Old Shepherd, looking for his lost sheep, finds Perdita. The Shepherd’s son enters and recounts Antigonus’ death and the wreck of the Sicilian ship. The Shepherd and his son discover gold with the baby and take her home with them.

Act 4, scene 2. Polixenes’ palace.
Camillo admits that he is homesick and he and Polixenes discuss the recent absence of prince Florizel. Polixenes decides to go in disguise to the Old Shepherd’s home to confirm rumors that Florizel has been spending time there.

Act 4, scene 3. A road near the Shepherd’s cottage.
Autolycus, a rogue, tells that he is recently unemployed and seeking income. He encounters the Clown, learns of the sheep-shearing festival, and picks his pocket.

Act 4, scene 4. The sheep shearing festival
Florizel, known as Doricles to all but Perdita, woos Perdita, hostess of the feast. Polixenes and Camillo, disguised, come to the feast as guests and are taken with Perdita’s beauty. There is much music, singing, and dancing and Autolycus comes to sell his wares. Polixenes discovers that Florizel and Perdita are in love and plan to marry and warns Florizel that he owes loyalty to his father. When Florizel casts off this duty, Polixenes removes his disguise, forbids Florizel from seeing Perdita again, and threatens to punish the Old Shepherd, the Clown, and Perdita. Camillo advises Florizel to flee to Sicilia with Perdita, predicting that Leontes, seeking forgiveness, will welcome them there. Autolycus enters, having sold all his wares and picked every pocket. Camillo has Florizel disguise himself by changing clothes with Autolycus. Autolycus intercepts the Shepherd and the Clown on their way to Polixenes to reveal how they found Perdita, and thus avoid punishment. Autolycus directs them to the ship where the king is boarding. The Shepherd agrees that Autolycus should act as their agent in presenting their case to the king and they go to board the ship.

Act 5, scene 1. Leontes’ palace.
Sicilian Lords attempt to convince Leontes that he has mourned enough and should marry again. Paulina reminds them of past events and the oracle. Leontes, still in mourning, yields to Paulina. Florizel and Perdita arrive at the palace. Florizel invents a story to explain their journey and his lack of attendants. As Leontes welcomes them, a servant announces that Polixenes and Camillo have arrived in Sicilia. Leontes discovers the truth of Florizel’s journey and goes to meet Polixenes.

Act 5, scene 2. Before Leontes’ palace.
Prompted by Autolycus, two Gentlemen and Emilia recount the revelation of Perdita’s true identity, the reunion between Leontes and Polixenes, Paulina’s reaction to Antigonus’ fate and meeting Perdita, and Perdita’s reaction to the story of her mother. Emilia reports that all are going to see Hermione’s statue, which had been secretly kept by Paulina. Autolycus blames himself for the good fortune of others and laments his honesty. The Clown and Shepherd comfort him and all go to see the statue.

Act 5, scene 3. A chapel in Paulina’s house.
Paulina reveals Hermione’s statue. As all marvel, Paulina claims that she can make the statue move. Calling on their faith, she awakens the statue with music and Hermione moves and speaks. Leontes begs her forgiveness. Hermione, Leontes, and Perdita are reunited. To comfort Paulina, lamenting the loss of Antigonus, Leontes pairs her with Camillo. All exit to recount further details of their parts in this tale.

Scoop on Sunday: History, Context, and Gossip
Join us for Scoop on Sunday, a lively discussion before every Sunday 7pm performance of The Winter's Tale. A member of the cast and a People’s Light artistic staff member will fill you in on the world of the play, how and why we chose it, as well as how we cast it, designed it, and rehearsed it. The program will start at 5:30 in The Farmhouse Bistro. Only $15, which includes light fare! Cash bar will be open. Call the Box Office at 610.644.3500 to reserve.

Actors, prices, productions, performance dates and times are subject to change. Additional fees or upgrades will apply. Contact the Box Office for details.

Autolycus: Pete Pryor*
Leontes: Christopher Patrick Mullen*
Paulina: Melanye Finister*
Emilia: Mary Elizabeth Scallen*
Camillo: Stephen Novelli*
Antigonus/Shepherd: Peter DeLaurier*
Hermione: Nancy McNulty*
Clown: Jerry Richardson*
Perdita/Mamillius: Saige Hassler*
Polixenes: Greg Wood*
Florizel: Bernardo Cubria*
Mopsa: Liam Snead
Dorcas: Mac Snead
First Lady: Sarah Kirk
Musician: Jay Ansill
Musician: Michael John McCarthy
Director: Guy Hollands
Assistant Director/Choreographer: Samantha Bellomo
Set/Costume Design: Philip Witcomb
Lighting Designer: Lily Fossner
Production Stage Manager: Kelly O'Rourke*
Composer/Musical Director: Michael John McCarthy
Dramaturg: Gina Pisasale

* Member, Actors' Equity Association, the Union of Professional Actors and Stage Managers.

Guy Hollands

Guy is delighted to make his U.S. directing debut at People’s Light. He is currently Associate Director of Citizens Theatre, Glasgow, Scotland, where he has also served as Artistic Director, Freelance director, and Drama Worker for 15 years. Guy’s award-winning direction in the U.K. includes, among many others, The Caretaker, Knives in Hens, Liar, Meep and Moop, Beauty and the Beast, Hamlet, Othello, Waiting for Godot, Wizard of Oz, and Three Sisters for Citizens, Yellow Moon at TAG, and Monster in the Hall which earned awards at the 2011 Edinburgh Fringe Festival and multiple 4 and 5-star reviews. His work has toured throughout Scotland and to Wales, Germany, Netherlands, U.S., Singapore, and China.

Guy is very interested in achieving a multigenerational feel to this traveling group of self-sustaining artists that make up the cast so joining the veteran People’s Light company members and experienced visiting artists will be members of People’s Lights’ youth and teen Arts Discovery programs.

Celebrating the Seasonal Turn

As director Guy Hollands has noted, the main inspiration for our production is the celebrations at a seasonal festival, such as the Drowning of the Marzanna, where communities gather for ritual parade and burning of the Witch of Winter. Focusing on this seasonal ritual not only highlights the festival aspects of this play and our production, but it also brings the stakes of the play, the structure of the story, and character’s journeys into sharp relief. We – both the audience and players alike – are invited to fully embrace the visceral experience of going from winter – a cold and dark time where nature experiences a “lasting wink” of death – to spring – when our bodies relax from shivering against the cold and nature is reborn before our eyes.

Written towards the end of Shakespeare’s career, it contains elements found in the best of his tragedies – a jealous king rages when he suspects his wife of infidelity, tyranny tears a court and family apart, and the untimely death of a beloved child causes an anguish that brings a certain clarity to what is important in life, as many of us have been reminded by the recent events in CT. But unlike Othello or King Lear, Shakespeare turns this dark and cold tale towards spring and offers us music, dance, reconciliation, and restoration that begin at a seasonal festival.

The Play of the Players

Our production will also be played by actors playing an itinerant troupe of artists that have come to Malvern to celebrate their seasonal ritual. Following Holland’s vision, the mechanics of the production will all be visible – we’ll see the sounds of the storm being created and we’ll be reminded once or twice that the characters are indeed actors. For example, actor Peter DeLaurier as Antigonus cries “I am gone for ever!” as he meets his end in the form of a bear attack, and then has the very next line of the play as a completely different character, the Old Shepherd.

The visible frame of the mechanics of the production offer an exciting dynamic where we get to see art and artifice created before our very eyes. This approach befits a larger question that I think that Shakespeare is asking with this play.

With the title The Winter’s Tale, our play announces its fantastical construction.
Certainly, some of its extraordinary turns ask us to rely on more than what is logically explainable:
• We have Shakespeare’s most famous stage direction: Exit, pursued by a bear. And this bear “dined” on Antigonus, yet nearby the infant Perdita was left untasted.
• Time is made corporal and speaks to us!
• And to top it all off, a statue is brought to life by Paulina.
At that moment, that perhaps applies to all of these events, Paulina demands, “It is required/You do awake your faith.” What sort of faith did Shakespeare require of us?

In Shakespeare’s time, organized religion involved more than a personal choice of spiritual devotion and expression. It was fused with moral, political, and social convictions that were bound to legal obligations to serve God, monarch, and country. The Catholic Bloody Mary, persecuted Protestants during her reign (1553-1558) while her successor, Elizabeth I (1558-1603), punished subjects who refused to attend weekly services of the Church of England. Faith was a matter of life and death.

When he assumed the throne in 1603, James I was tolerant of both Protestant and Catholic practices. However, after a failed assassination attempt known as the Gunpowder Plot attempted by a small band of Catholics in 1605, James became increasingly paranoid and tyrannical. In 1611, the speculated year in which The Winter’s Tale debuts, James I dissolved Parliament, underscoring his adamant belief in the Divine Right of Kings. In addition to the debates among the Christian sects, James was fascinated by Cabbalism, the faith of magic and devil conjuring. In 1597, he published Daemonologie, a dialogue about witchcraft and “a notable sorcerer who was burned at Edenbrough.” He believed that witches had thwarted his marital rendezvous with Anne of Denmark by conjuring a tempest during her journey and forcing her off course.

While Shakespeare wrote The Winter’s Tale, both Christian and pagan belief systems were being influenced by new geographical and scientific discoveries. In 1607, Jamestown, the first permanent English settlement in the New World, was founded. And in 1609, Galileo’s invention of the telescope confirmed Copernicus’ theory that the sun, not the Earth, was the center of the universe. It was in this historical moment that Shakespeare wrote about the dangers of absolute sovereign power, the extent of human control in the world, ventures to rough and rural lands, mysticism and the supernatural, death, and rebirth.

Among this fractious arena of various competing “faiths,” Shakespeare, nearing the end of his career, is arguably reflecting on his own career as a player and playwright and his appeal to theatre audiences to have a kind of theatrical faith. Time asks for our patience as we “slide/O’er sixteen years” and “imagine [him]/Gentle spectators,…in fair Bohemia.” We are asked to suspend our disbelief, believe we are in the fictional worlds he creates, and empathize with the characters of his story.

This winter’s tale, however, is far from painless, involving unexplainable rage, betrayal, the pain of a child’s death, and a lethal bear attack. Why does Shakespeare demand our theatrical faith, forcing us to feel the weight of such tragedy, this chill of winter? Perhaps some insight can be gained from Steve Hamilton, a father who wrote of the untimely death of his 18 year old daughter. He recounted, “within a millisecond of her death, I was screaming with doubt…What do I really believe? Slowly, we turned more and more to our faith, and choosing to believe she can be in a better place or is in a better place and I'll see her there.” In times if tragedy, we turn to faith for survival, revitalization, and renewal.

Theatre director and theorist Augusto Boal maintains that living through the repressive nature of tragedy is crucial to achieving “the enormous efficacy of the transformations that take place before [our] eyes. Theater is change and not simple presentation of what exists: it is becoming and not being.” Theatre involves and requires a faith in something beyond what actually exists in order for us to reflect up on and respond to what does exist. In company with Time, it is where cruelty can be forgiven and a family torn apart can reunite. As we endure the hardships of winter, Shakespeare tells us an old tale of joys mixed with sorrows, where faith can heal and restore the world.

And the great part about our production is that we get to celebrate this turn from winter to spring as a community. When Hollands first encountered the community at People’s Light in 2011, he was struck by the company’s way of “meaningfully engaging young people in the life of the theatre.” The courage, eager engagement, and mutual artistic respect among the veteran actors and young artists that Hollands discovered among the company at People’s Light, combined with his interest in exploring the folk performers that appear at the seasonal festival in the play, has inspired his vision of The Winter’s Tale.

So come and grab some cider, gather among the warmth of People and Light at People’s Light, and let’s burn this witch of winter.

See what the critics are saying about our production of The Winter's Tale!

Watch an exclusive behind the scenes video about the making of our Winter Festival! Come and enjoy warm cider, music, and dance a half-hour before each performance of The Winter's Tale!

Worried you won't understand Shakespeare? Mary Elizabeth Scallen (Emilia from The Winter's Tale) explains Shakespeare's use of poetry and prose throughout the play to develop characters and plot.

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Click Here to read a fascinating article about our production of The Winter's Tale by David Patrick Stearns of The Philadelphia Inquirer.

Scoop on Sunday, THE WINTER'S TALE

Scoop on Sunday: History, Context, and Gossip

Join us for Scoop on Sunday, a lively discussion before every Sunday 7pm performance of The Winter's Tale. A member of the cast and a People’s Light artistic staff member will fill you in on the world of the play, how and why we chose it, as well as how we cast it, designed it, and rehearsed it. The program will start at 5:30pm in The Farmhouse Bistro. Only $15, which includes light fare! Cash bar will be open.

February 3, 2013
February 17, 2013
March 3, 2013

Call the Box Office at 610.644.3500 to reserve.

Sun, 02/03/2013 - 5:30pm - Sun, 03/03/2013 - 5:30pm