By JULIA HABLAK, Staff Writer
The Shakespeare Performance Troupe (SPT) put on three separate productions of “The Winter’s Tale” in Rhodes Dining Hall on the evenings of Nov 2, 3, and 4.
The play’s director, Charis Nandor, BMC ‘19, first read the play in her ninth-grade drama class and says it will probably always have a special place in her heart. Last year, Nandor directed “Shortspeare, the Shakesperience,” a combination of several different Shakespeare dramas.
Nandor began crafting her vision for the play last spring, and made edits to the script over the summer. She cut lines from the original play to make it more concise, and also made the decision to change the gender of two characters- Florizel and Camillo. It was important to her to have queer representation in the play; she said that the change “felt right.” Nandor also reworked several other aspects of the play to highlight current social issues including sexism, classism, and homophobia.
“The Winter’s Tale” opens in Sicily with King Polixenes and King Leontes, played by Annie Belgam and Kris Marcopoulos respectively, both BMC ‘18. Belgam and Marcopoulos each demonstrated a masterful command of their characters, demanding attention from their lieges and the audience alike throughout the performance
Polixenes has come from Bohemia to visit his old friend King Leontes. But Leontes quickly changes his attitude from welcoming to hypocritical, and in a fit of jealousy he orders Polixenes poisoned and his newborn daughter exiled.
After 16 years, Leontes’ exiled daughter, Perdita, who has grown up in the care of a Bohemian shepherd, falls in love with Polixenes’ daughter, Florizel. Rachel Ellerson, BMC ‘19, played Florizel and Ceara Buzzell, BMC ‘20, played Perdita. The two characters’ heartwarming romance wins over the audience and helps them defy Polixenes’ initial protests against their marriage.
And who could forget the stealthy audience favorite Autolycus, played by Kat Phifer, BMC ‘19? In a single scene in which Autolycus pick-pockets Perdita’s brother, (played by the equally entertaining Callie Folke, BMC ‘20), Autolycus steals the show. Phifer’s seamless portrayal of his clownish antics and manipulative personality brings some comic relief into the play.
The final scene witnesses a joyful gathering of the characters as peace is restored to the kingdoms. Leontes realizes the errors of his ways and is happy to be reunited with his daughter Perdita and his old friend Polixenes.
The Saturday night performance was a “joke night” performance, and the actors were encouraged to throw in their own jokes. Some of the music was also changed for dramatic and comical effect: “Sophias” was replaced by “Hedwig’s Theme,” and once scene included “Bop to the Top.”
Nandor was completely satisfied with how the play turned out and “couldn’t have asked for a better cast.” She explained that SPT had rehearsed every single day.
Viewers made lots of positive remarks about the performances. “‘The Winter’s Tale” was an excellent evening in its own right, carried to comedic excellence by Julia Whittle [BMC ‘18] and [Jessica] Jubs Breet [BMC ‘18], both of whom were utterly delightful,” said one viewer. Other audience members signalled their approval through laughter and applause.