The Winter's Tale Final paper - West 1 Selena West...

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West 1 Selena West Professor Hattaway Shakespeare: Text and Performance 16 May 2017 The Winter s Tale About and Across Time Shakespeare'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 Tale resists 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 most difficult 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 in the epochal 1912 London production, directed by Granville Barker, and the multivalent 1994
West 2 Swedish 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

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