July 8 – November 28, 2015

Shakespeare’s magnificent late play is a roller-coaster ride from romance to tragedy to comedy and finally to a place of transcendent beauty that few other works of art have ever gone. “A sad tale’s beset for winter,” but after unleashing a wintry tempest onto his characters, Shakespeare ultimately conjures spring’s miraculous rebirth.

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Stuff that Happens
Stuff that happens during the play
  • Leontes, the King of Sicilia, has been entertaining his childhood friend, Polixenes, the King of Bohemia, for nine months. Leontes asks his wife Hermione to persuade Polixenes to delay his departure for home a little longer.
  • Suddenly, Leontes is overcome with the belief that his wife has been having an affair with Polixenes and that the child she is about to have is Polixenes’s bastard.
  • Leontes orders Hermione’s arrest and separates her from their young son, Mamillius. Leontes then orders his councilor, Camillo, to murder Polixenes. Instead, Camillo warns Polixenes and the two of them escape to Bohemia.
  • Hermione delivers a baby daughter while in prison, and her attendant Paulina, enraged at Leontes’s accusations against her lady, brings the infant to Leontes and pleads with him to reconsider.
  • Leontes’s only concession is to ask the god Apollo (through the Oracle at Delphi) to decide his wife’s guilt or innocence. He tells Paulina’s husband, Antigonus, to remove the infant girl and abandon her “to some remote and desert place.” Meanwhile, lonely for his mother, Mamillius falls ill.
  • Hermione goes on trial and the messengers from the Oracle arrive. Apollo proclaims that “Hermione is chaste, Polixenes blameless, Camillo a true subject, Leontes a jealous tyrant.”
  • Leontes rejects Apollo’s declaration as “mere falsehood,” Hermione collapses and is pronounced dead; news comes that their son Mamillius has also died.
  • Leontes begs Apollo’s forgiveness.
  • Meanwhile, as a storm is brewing, Antigonus arrives on a seacoast with the baby girl; a bear finds Antigonus and a shepherd finds the baby.
  • A Chorus in the person of Time announces that sixteen years have passed and that the abandoned girl, named Perdita, has grown up in the home of the shepherd. Polixenes, suspecting his son Florizel is in love, disguises himself to spy on the situation at the annual sheep shearing festival.
  • Autolycus, a musical scoundrel and pickpocket, tricks the shepherd’s son, who is on his way to the festival.
  • During the festival, the King finds out that his son is in love with a “shepherdess” (Perdita) and forbids it. Camillo helps the young lovers flee to Sicilia.
  • Unions, reunions, and wonders ensue.
Notes from the Director
Temporis filia veritas: Truth is the daughter of time

woman without her man is nothing

How did you read that sequence of words? What is the message?
Now, look for an opposite message.
Both are there. Both can be argued passionately. Both, I daresay, are true.

Is there a difference between how you first read it and how you’d publish it? How you punctuate that sequence of words, by habit or intention, reveals something about you (and maybe your community or culture). For now, anyway. It could change.

So, welcome to The Winter’s Tale.

I think this play takes a keen look at Dignity and Grace. By Grace, I mean allowing those miraculous gifts we can have available to us, even though we don’t deserve them — particularly the actual love of a partner, brother, friend, or child; kind, excellent advice; the trust of a king; the ability to lead or inspire; opportunity/wealth; approval. Being human, we become suspicious of those gifts, caveat emptor, and try to control them. Grace might require surrender of what we think of as our Dignity (but is usually Looking Good or Being Right). And in a state of grace, true dignity abounds.

Some things I’m interested in:

Ambiguity. Truth is in the eye of the beholder. Scatter a handful of humans around a series of events, and you will have a handful of slightly or significantly different witness accounts telling the Story of what happened. I feel like the play walks the narrow knife blade between intention and perception. In fact, someone could pick your pocket that way.

Power. Who are we around power? If it can corrupt, blind, and silence, it sure can’t do that on its own; humans have to agree to it, with specific action and inaction.

Nothing. Nothing = the absence of something. Nothing = possibility. Nothing = a creative space, from which tales get spun for good or ill, for comfort or warning, to justify or change. (Human) nature abhors a vacuum; we tend to fill it up.

Action. Going along with circumstances/being polite is as active a choice as rejecting circumstance and scrabbling forward law-be-damned. And we can love or loathe you, either way.

Rehearsal. For me, the artistic method is like the scientific method: have an idea (hypothesis), try it out fully (test it), see if it works (conclusions), repeat. So while I’ve had all kinds of notions in my head and heart for moments of this play for months before the first rehearsal, the performance you’re seeing, dear and vital audience, is what we’ve discovered, together.

You are the crucial, final ingredient, and we’ve been looking forward to your being here. A play without an audience is nothing.


Guest Director