The Winter’s Tale – 2008

Director John Shippey

My love affair with Shakespeare began on a balmy summer’s evening in 1990. Sitting somewhere towards the back of the audience in the courtyard of The George – we had booked on a whim with a friend from work – I was transported. First, I admit, by the setting; but then, as I settled into the play, by the poetry of the words. Not by the verse itself, nor by the language; but by the cadences, the textures, the rhythms and the patterns and the way the whole was woven together to tell the story.
It’s that essential difference: Shakespeare on the page (which, alas, was my experience at school in the ‘60s: providing a mire of archaic words in a tangle of impenetrable phraseology) versus Shakespeare on the stage, where the text as a whole can sing and dance and create its own magic.

That first experience – the first time I had seen Hamlet – sowed a seed which has grown and blossomed. From my first Shakespearean role (at The George as the Bosun in The Tempest: the whole of the first scene shouting against the storm, two speeches in the last scene and nothing in between), through a couple of small, local tours; more roles at The George; summer productions at the Arts Theatre in Cambridge; watching a countless number of productions of Shakespeare’s plays; studying at The Shakespeare Institute in Stratford; devising and directing Bits of the Bard, an evening of Shakespearean excerpts, right up to directing at The George, my fascination with his work has burgeoned. Every production I have been in, studied or seen has cast some new light on the text, or has offered a new, exciting and contemporary interpretation of the play as a whole.

I’m hooked…

As for The Winter’s Tale: this is one of Shakespeare’s late plays, one of a group which sits comfortably in neither the ‘tragedy’ nor the ‘comedy’ category as it has elements of both. Shakespeare was very exploratory in his work, moving at the leading edge of the theatre of his time, and this blurring of the genres towards a new type of play, the ‘romance’, was one way in which he did so. The play would have stretched the imaginations of his contemporary audiences, incorporating as it does the real and the fantastic, changes of geographical location, and a leap forward in time of 16 years. All of these are things which may not excite comment in productions today, but without scenery, programmes and technical wizardry, they would have required considerable skill and imagination to portray.

The play is one of my favourites, having both depth and lightness; contrasts and similarities; beautiful verse and earthy prose, and having one of those ambiguously written endings which a director can choose to shape in any one of many possible ways…
On a closing note, I would like to extend my thanks to the late Mo Pearce who encouraged and stretched me when she was directing. It was she who was kind enough to suggest that I might be interested in taking on the director’s role in this unique and delightful venue – and so led me to this wonderful opportunity to bring The Winter’s Tale to life, for you.

The Winter’s Tale Programme

 

Cast

ARCHIDAMUS a lord of Bohemia Kevin Tuohy

CAMILLO a lord of Sicilia Mark Hebert

POLIXENES King of Bohemia Ronald Stevenson

LEONTES King of Sicilia Richard Brown

HERMIONE Queen to Leontes Caroline Harbord

MAMILLIUS their son, the young Prince of Sicilia Bernie Augstein Peter Sayer

ANTIGONUS a lord of Sicilia Derrick Scothern

PAULINA wife to Antigonus Stephanie Hamer

A GAOLER Phil Cox

EMILIA a lady attending on the Queen Cathy McClusky

CLEOMENES a lord of Sicilia Guy Marshall

DION a lord of Sicilia Ray Livermore

COURT OFFICER Kevin Webb

A MARINER Phil Cox

SHEPHERDESS reputed mother of Perdita Susan Painter

YOUNG SHEPHERD Shepherdess’s son Oliver Scott

TIME as Chorus Derrick Scothern and Bernie Augstein or Peter Sayer

AUTOLYCUS a rogue Phil Cox

FLORIZEL Polixenes’ son, Prince of Bohemia Danny Haslop

PERDITA daughter to Leontes and Hermione Stephanie Winiecki

DORCAS a shepherdess Jen Spencer

MOPSA a shepherdess Jess Garrett

ROGERO a Sicilian lord Tony Champion

MUSICIANS Roy Bellass, Robert Bramley, Ruth Bramley

 

Production Team

DIRECTOR John Shippey

ASSISTANT DIRECTOR Jacquie Spencer

DESIGNER Hilary Kemp

STAGE MANAGER Kevin Connor

MUSICAL DIRECTOR & CHOREOGRAPHER Ruth Bramley

WARDROBE Jo Fradley, Helen Arnett

ASSISTANT STAGE MANAGERS Richard Morley and Katie Hammond

SOUND Adrian Wadey

LIGHTING Adrian Wadey, Daniel Cousins, Roger Blackmore, Stephen Reed, Donna Bays

PROPERTIES Smiley Mildwater and Cherry Mildwater

DIRECTOR’S ASSISTANT AND PROMPT Caryl Jones

MAKE-UP Daisy Spencer, Susan Painter, Anna Wieczorek, Jen Spencer, Roz Brown

CONSTRUCTION & BACKSTAGE Suzanne Connor, Beth Connor, Graham Pearce, Ken McCollin, Chris Doyle, Kirsty Doyle, Richard Meredith, John Taylor

FRONT OF HOUSE Trish James and team

BOX OFFICE Cheryl and Michael Cook and team

POSTER DESIGN Trevor Bass

CAST PHOTOGRAPHS Kevin Connor, Beth Connor, Antonia Brown

PROGRAMME DESIGN Peter Brown in conjunction with Ken Girvan Printers Ltd.


 

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