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THE WINTER’S TALE (article first published : 2007-09-13)

The Winter’s Tale, Shakespeare’s bittersweet story of love and redemption will be presented as part of the 7th Annual Shakespeare Festival at the Elizabeth Sneddon Theatre. In the tradition of the previous highly successful productions like Romeo and Juliet, A Midsummer Night’s Dream and last year’s Twelfth Night, the production aims to foster appreciation of Shakespeare as an accessible and ‘living’ playwright, particularly for younger learners.

The Winter’s Tale follows Leontes, King of Sicilia, as he convinces himself that his pregnant wife Hermione is having an affair with his visiting childhood friend Polixenes, now the King of Bohemia. Leontes’ jealousy leads to Hermione’s imprisonment, Polixenes’ return to Bohemia, a series of events that nearly ruin him, and his kingdom, as friends, family, and trusted advisors all fall victim to his blind rage before Leontes recognizes his error and falls into a state of boundless remorse.

Sixteen years later, his abandoned daughter unknowingly sets the stage for the redemption of all. This renewal after ‘winter’ is based upon Leontes’ undergoing profound change, upon growth through time and upon the choices of two of Shakespeare's women characters who perform acts of resistance and resilience with powerful rhetoric. In the end, it is in the hearts of their children that peace and communion are found for the divided kings, demonstrating the life-long truth that love, forgiveness and innocence are the cure for distrust and tyranny.

One of Shakespeare's "divine comedies", the play shows the icy grip of jealousy loosen as the warmth of spring brings renewal, romance and resurrection in a "once-upon-a-time" idyll. With its tragic opening, romantic heart, and magical conclusion, it's truly a play that has something for everyone. In its journey from rage and loss to redemption, reconciliation and wonder, it visits kings and queens, playful children, a singing street-hustler, festive dancers, a most extraordinary statue, and (of course) that famously hungry ‘bear’.

Directed by Mervyn McMurtry and Tamar Meskin, the play is a profound exploration of the simple miracles in life, and the forces that shape them: love, friendship and forgiveness. The production features a large cast of exciting, young performers in the wonderful roles of this, one of Shakespeare’s most emotionally complex and unique plays.

The Winter’s Tale runs from September 10 to 15 nightly at 18h30 at the Elizabeth Sneddon Theatre. Tickets R30 (R10 students, scholars, pensioners and block bookings over 10). Teachers bringing scholars are admitted free.

Contact Claudette Wagner for bookings and/or information on 031 260 3133, fax 031 260 1410.or email wagnerc1@ukzn.ac.za




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