The Winter’s Tale is classic Shakespeare with a twist

0
894

CMYK-Officer, Alchemist, Cleomenes, Dion, Emilia and Paulina (Donna Soares, Julia Siedlanowska, Jalen Saip, Joanna Redfern, Christina Wells Campbell) - photo Gaelan Beatty  sized

With summer in full swing, there are several Shakespearean productions that are being brought to life onstage. The Winter’s Tale is one such play that has been beautifully re-imagined by director Lisa Wolpe of Classic Chic productions, a company that is founded on the notion of creating a platform for women to explore great roles and opportunities in the acting world. 

Thus, this production of The Winter’s Tale features an all-female cast. The tale is unique in that it features a range of the story elements that the bard does best: his classic dark tragedy as well as some lighthearted comedy are incorporated into one of his most fascinating problem plays.  

The play is set in two separate locations with comedic scenes in the land of Bohemia transitioning into the darker events that take place in the land of Sicilia. The story centers around the insecurities of King Leontes of Sicilia, who becomes convinced that his wife Hermione is having an affair with his best friend, King Polixenes of Bohemia. Leontes’ jealousy manifests itself in his leadership with devastating results. 

Featuring swordplay, tyrants, dancing, and song, the production also has women cast in authoritative male roles. Corina Akeson plays the starring role of Leontes, the jealous tyrant who is held in a tight grip by his insecurities. 

She says of the play’s premise, “The themes of the play are very current. It deals with the issues of the general energy of male against female, and how a feminine divine energy is expressed in life. It also questions how they function against each other, or with each other, and what the repercussions of that are in society in general.” 

The play also provides opportunities for women to play “beautifully defined, strong, classic roles [. . . with] everything from clowns to kings,” according to director Lisa Wolpe. Seeing such a dynamic story performed by an all female cast is a rare one, especially considering the historical context of all characters in Shakespeare’s plays being performed by men, as it was once illegal for women to perform on a stage. 

Akeson echoes Wolpe’s sentiments and says of the all-female ensemble, “I think that this [play] gives women several opportunities in the field, both onstage and offstage.” 

The poetic language of Shakespeare, while eloquent and beautiful, is not easily understood by modern day audiences. “We have become such a monosyllabic society,” says Akeson, “but the human heart is still full of poetry. There is imagery in Shakespearean language. When people watch our performance, our bodies will be telling the story and effectively opening the portal to that language. “

Indeed, the vibrancy of this performance of The Winter’s Tale cannot be compared to a reading of Shakespearean works within a classroom setting. Rather, the bard’s work will come to life through the performances of a unique and talented cast. Akeson encourages people in the community to watch the play as she says, “If we continue to watch and support Shakespeare, we can make sure that his art form doesn’t die.”

 The Winter’s Tale will be presented by Classic Chic productions at the PAL Studio Theatre July 26 to August 9. For more information, visit palstudiotheatre.com.

Leave a Reply