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Intellect

Shakespeare's "The Winter's Tale" opens at BYU Pardoe Theatre

A cold winter's night on the snowy Alaskan frontier provides the setting for William Shakespeare's "The Winter's Tale" opening Friday, Nov. 14, at 7:30 p.m. in the Pardoe Theatre at Brigham Young University.

Performances run through Saturday, Nov. 22, and from Tuesday, Dec. 2, through Saturday, Dec. 6, with previews Wednesday, Nov. 12, and Thursday, Nov. 13. There will also be a matinee performance Saturday, Nov. 15, at 2 p.m. There are no performances Sundays or Mondays.

Tickets at $12 with $3 off with a BYU or student ID are available through the Fine Arts Ticket Office, (801) 378-4322 or at www.byu.edu/hfac. Tickets for previews and matinee performances are $5.

"The Winter's Tale," directed by Laurie Harrop-Purser, is set "somewhere between the Yukon, Russia and your imagination."

Harrop-Purser said she decided to set the show, which originally premiered in 1611, in the cold frontier after she experienced an acting job in Alaska.

"Almost instantaneously, the lead character gets jealous," Harrop-Purser said. "I couldn't understand how that could happen so quickly, but after spending time in Alaska, I was able to imagine it happening there. It's just a different kind of place, a rough place."

The action begins as Leontes, his wife Hermione, and their son Mamillius strive to survive in a cold, unforgiving land. Leontes' childhood friend Polixenes visits, but is falsely accused of having an affair with Hermione.

Dramaturg Jessica Aharon Lutzker calls the play timeless, and also notes the importance of the location of the action and its impact on the story.

"For this production, the director and production team chose to focus on the contrasting environments of Bohemia and Sicilia, and the play's theme of redemption and reparation," Lutzker said. "The settings demonstrate that location does not only affect how its inhabitants act, but the inhabitants reflect on the environment."

Harrop-Purser is also using the central symbol of a totem pole to bring a more contemporary feel to a play with references to Apollo and the oracle at Delphi.

"The totem pole is used as a universal symbol of faith," she said. "Using a universal symbol and a connection to a native religion helps reinforce the message of the universal nature of Leontes' situation."

Harrop-Purser said the cast has been working hard in preparation, including working with Shakespearean text consultant Neil Freeman.

"It was a real opportunity for the students to work with him," Harrop-Purser said. "He is an authority on Shakespeare and we spent several weeks working with him."

"The premise of the play is a group of people in the Yukon telling a story on a cold winter's night," Harrop-Purser said. "They sit onstage and watch the action of the story with the audience."

She also said the 12 cast members will each be playing multiple roles, facilitated by onstage costume changes.

"The visible costume and set changes allow the audience to track transformations in mood and character—the faces and clothes that we take on and off as we react in the face of our situations," Lutzker said. "The evolving settings demonstrate that the inhabitants affect the locale."

Harrop-Purser says because the story is told in a different way, it will be fun for the audience.

"It's an interesting twist and setting for this show," she said. "We have some very talented actors—some newcomers and some veterans of the BYU stage, and they're doing an excellent job."

Cast members include Lisa Jenell Allen, Celeste Barrand, Peter Biggs, Bryn M. Fairclough, Susanna Winters Florence, Billy Gunn, Matthew Haws, Moronai Kanekoa, Jennifer M. Leigh, Matt Nielsen, Ashley Ogzewalla, Reese Purser and Benjamin A. Sansom.

The production stage manager is Bonnie Ann King, and the scenic designer is Jenni Nelson. Brent Tyler Sjodin is the costume designer and Jennifer Morales is the makeup and hair designer. The production team also includes lighting designer Ben A. Meyers, sound designer Emily Yu Severson, sound engineer Nathan Hesson and assistant director Reese Purser. The technical crew includes Kristin Fitzpatrick, Amy DuVall and Chelsea Toler.

Writer: Rachel M. Sego

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