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Home :: Archive :: 1997 :: January ::
Re: WT Productions
Shakespeare Electronic Conference, SHK 8.0145.  Wednesday, 29 January 1997.

(1)     From:   Peter Greenfield <
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        Date:   Tuesday, 28 Jan 1997 12:04:52 -0800
        Subj:   Re: SHK 8.0138  Re: WT Productions

(2)     From:   Edward van Aelstyn <
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        Date:   Tuesday, 28 Jan 1997 09:13:18 +0100
        Subj:   WT


(1)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Peter Greenfield <
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Date:           Tuesday, 28 Jan 1997 12:04:52 -0800
Subject: 8.0138  Re: WT Productions
Comment:        Re: SHK 8.0138  Re: WT Productions

David Skeele asks of the 1996 production of WINTER'S TALE by the Oregon
Shakespeare Festival:

>The practice of realizing onstage Leontes' vision of adultery is not original
>to the Ashland production....I am interested--what did the detractors at
>Ashland object to about it?

I regularly lead a tour to Ashland, and of some 60 alumni and friends of the
university, only about 5-10 of them liked this feature of the production. Somee
who didn't know the play were confused: were Hermione's and Polixenes'
gyrations under the red light merely a realization of Leontes' fantasies? or
were they seeing a flashback to actions that had actually occurred previously
offstage?  Others found the acting-out of Leontes' fantasies superfluous--the
language is so powerful that no one was in doubt as to what Leontes was
thinking, even if they didn't understand every word--and would have preferred
the contrast between L's infected imagination and the innocence of Hermione's
actual behavior in the scene.

On the other hand, this production included a wonderful visual addition to the
final scene.  Hermione's statue stood in a kind of sculpture garden, surrounded
by statues of Mamillius, Antigonus and the bear.  The visual reminder of those
who have died and will not revive deepened the joy of reconciliation.  At the
end, everyone exited except Leontes and Hermione, who remained briefly and then
went out past the statue of Mamillius. Hermione, glimpsing the statue, nearly
collapsed, and had to be held up by Leontes as they left.  At the performance I
saw, the audience had to swallow hard before the applause started.

        Peter Greenfield

(2)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Edward van Aelstyn <
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Date:           Tuesday, 28 Jan 1997 09:13:18 +0100
Subject:        WT

Winter's Tale becomes more interesting and teaches a better message if one can
take Leontes' suspicions about Hermione to be accurate. When I directed the
play, there was sufficient by-play between Hermione and Polixenes to support
Leontes. What-did-happen should at least be ambiguous. Leontes' saving, then,
is not into sanity but into forgiveness. An insane Leontes makes the play
trivial.
 

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