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West 1Selena West Professor Hattaway Shakespeare: Text and Performance 16 May 2017The Winter’s Tale About and Across TimeShakespeare's The Winter’s Tale, a play of immense tonal, spacial and temporal shifts, re-alizes Polonius’ joke in act two, scene two of Hamlet, in which he asserts the visiting actors are able to perform a “tragical-comical-historical-pastoral” play (Frey 322). The Winter’s Taleresists and fulfills this supposedly ridiculous categorical compound via proliferative interpretations by critics and directors across time. Eighteenth century productions, for example, were marked by disfavor for the play’s tonal and geographical range. Many productions opted to maintain the neoclassical unities via mass textual omission. The comic-romantic plot of Perdita and Florizel’s young love supplanted Leontes’ tragic one, so that, at best, the first three acts were distilled and appended as Perdita’s “dull” origin story (Bartholomeusz 38). Three hundred years of adaptation would see Shakespeare’s text restored to the stage, and its range of narrative improbabilities vari-ously and strategically presented. Every full production demands defining choices about the mostdifficult aspects of the play: the dual setting of Sicily and Bohemia, the sudden onset of Leontes’ jealousy, the ever-problematic “exit pursued by bear,” the dissonance of the tragic and romantic story-lines, and the concluding miracle of Hermione’s resurrection. A study of the choices made to deal with key properties in the contemporary Cheek By Jowl production, directed by Declan Donnellan, serves to define a modern-day production and a prevalent critical attitude. A comparison of these choices to those made in the past, particularly inthe epochal 1912 London production, directed by Granville Barker, and the multivalent 1994
West 2Swedish production by Ingmar Bergman, among others, reveals the range of interpretations across time and culture to be as varied as the play’s course. The Cheek by Jowl Production, as a modern-day meditation on time, does not exist in isolation, but as part of the play’s long perfor-mative evolution. The presentation of setting is the first definitive choice in the production of The Winter’s Tale,as it serves to distinguish between the values of Sicily and Bohemia, and also speaks to the director’s interpretive position. The title, after all, posits the play as a tale, meant to be registered non-literally. This is enforced by the moments in the play that “reason operates most strongly against,” (Bartholomeusz 32), such as Antigonus’ death-by-bear and Hermione’s miraculous res-urrection. The first three acts of the play, however, as Leontes’ undoing unfolds, lack the magic and gaiety of a tale. The viewer witnesses the real and final death of Leontes’ son, the apparent death of his wife and the estrangement of his heir all before being pivoted into “tale” by the quasi-mythical bear-pursuit. Leontes