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Shakespeare & Beyond

Five things to look for when you watch 'The Winter's Tale'

If you’re going to see a performance of The Winter’s Tale, perhaps you’ve read the play (or maybe just the plot summary)—or maybe you’re going in cold. So, what should you look for in this Shakespeare play? What should you pay particular attention to?

We asked this question to directors at four of our theater partners across the U.S. who staged The Winter’s Tale this year: Seattle Shakespeare Company, San Francisco Shakespeare Festival, Baltimore Shakespeare Factory, and Oregon Shakespeare Festival. (And for good measure we threw in Folger Theatre, which last produced the play in 2009.)

Here’s what they said:

1. The bear

—George Mount, artistic director at Seattle Shakespeare Company

“The first question people ask when they hear you’re producing The Winter’s Tale is, ‘How are you doing the bear?’ It’s such an iconic bit of stage direction, and the answer to that question points to how the director and designers will handle the theatricality of the entire production.

How realistically or abstractly, how serious or silly “exit, pursued by bear” is handled is a microcosm of how the rest of the play is treated. The approach to the bear is a reflection of how magic, menace, fantasy and frivolity are manifest in the overall approach to telling this story. And because it’s such a key moment, it’s a huge challenge to the creativity of the production team, and the ability of the producing company to realize it satisfactorily. You’ll learn a lot about the production by how that question is answered.”


George Mount as Antigonus in The Winter’s Tale, 2016. Seattle Shakespeare Company.

“Our production used slivers of projections for the bear, so audiences only got fragments of the menace and never really the full picture. It was theatrical, abstract and mysterious, and the powerful force of it loomed largely over the frail, small and vulnerable people beneath it. And I was actually the poor victim of famous stage direction.”


I thought you would like to know about Amerinda’s production of The Winter’s Tale in New York

Karen Kupperman — December 14, 2016

Thank you!

Jennie LaMonte — December 16, 2016

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