Viewing Journals

English 339--Introduction to Shakespeare

On BBC and English 510 players'

performance of The Winter's Tale

Triangulating Shakespeare

Vanessa Brehio (from Critiques of The Winter's Tale Performances)

The live performance at the Mission used the small space to create many stages. An example is in the first act when Hermione and Polixenes are sitting together in the upper left stage, while Leontes is on the upper front part of the stage watching them, and finally Maxmillius is playing with his nannies in the upper right stage. This use of space was cleverly done outside in the garden scenes with Autolycus and his encounters with his victims.

The costume and music used were Spanish. The fancy frivolous dresses with black lace and the ladies with their fans created the flair of the Spanish culture.

The same actress was casted for the two parts of Maximillius and Perdita, which made it even more convincing. She did an excellent job in differing her style for each part. Leontes was truly engaging. Leontes violently bursts out in fits of paranoia, yet almost always the audience was amused by him. We couldn't hate him because he was often the focus of the joke with his facial expressions of inquisition. Paulina even got the most of him when she was comparing the baby's features with his own; he was interested. The production chose to make some of the most cruel scenes funny such as when Polixenes wavers between keeping the baby.

The cast dealt calmly and coolly when unexpected problems occurred. I don't think that the chairs were supposed to block the way when Hermoine is dramatically carried out. Another time was when the Old Shepherd is calling for the Clown, his son. Apparently the actor had accidentally forgotten about the scene and the Old Shepherd used the opportunity to make it a comical experience of thoughtless children. Since the cast didn't have much of a opportunity to practice in the garden, they encountered a few complications. Perdita snagged her dress on the rose bushes during one of her speeches. Many of the actors were too tall to do the dance around the well without hitting their heads.

The scenes in the Mission's garden made the Springtime theme come alive. The props were simple with the feast spread on one table and a swing. The natural surrounding of the well, grass, trees, overhanging vines, rose bushes were perfect and complete. The scene in the actual sanctuary was again perfect. The long aisle, the pews focusing on the statue, the reverent atmosphere made it incredibly effective. Hermione coming to life was slow and life-like.

The film used white throughout most of the play to create the timelessness of the play. The color black was used during the dark times of the play such as the prison scene and the abandonment of the helpless baby by Antigonus. Paulina was especially strong and outspoken with her part. She was considered a positive shrew of her time because she was standing up for the innocent. The brief appearance of the bear was unrealistic and comical which acted to usher in the light-hearted, springtime fairy tale resolutions of the tragic events.

Kirsten Johnson (from A Winter's Tale In Two Lights)

The BBC production of A Winter's Tale was typical of most BBC productions. It followed the text closely and took few liberties with interpretation. It was very somber and dramatic. In order to emphasize the intense conflicts in the play they relied heavily on the soliloquies of Leontes, Antigonus, Hermione, and Perdita. The costumes were elaborate against the stark sets. The starkness of the sets actually placed a greater emphasis on the text itself. Not only did the change in lighting and colors serve to symbolize a change in location, it also helped to create mood. The use of brown lighting for Bohemia gave the stage a rustic, pastoral feel. Likewise, the use of whites and light blues for Sicilia gave the stage a formal, sharp feel. In addition, the colors played upon the change of seasons. Leontes was portrayed as a powerful and imposing figure against a petite Hermione. For the most part, it was a very somber, dramatic production.

I am pleased to say that the Cal Poly production was completely different from the BBC production. It was light and comical despite the dramatic conflict of the play. I was impressed with the elaborate and appropriate costumes. The acting was fabulous. To my surprise, Leontes was actually quite humorous. He chose his pauses carefully in order to emphasize the humorous and ironic moments of his script. I also enjoyed Autolycus. She did a great job of signing, dancing, and developing her character. The Old Shepherd was quite a ham! He used his role in order to play with the audience. Speaking of this, the audience participation was what made us feel as if we were part of the production -- "interactive drama"! This is not to say that any of the enjoyable aspects of the production took away from the dramatic conflict. Hermione, Leontes, Paulina, and the rest of the cast did a fabulous job maintaining the seriousness of the central conflicts. Congratulations on a great production. What a pleasant way to end the quarter!


Kerry Magee (from Film Journal - The Winter's Tale)

The B.B.C. production was very straightforward and serious. The scenes with Leontes were wrought with anger, jealousy, and fear. And most of the performances were predictable according to the text.

One aspect that this move set itself apart was with its settings. The Sicilia scenes were backed by futuristic white stone. The stone was formed into sharp angles giving the image of the sharpness of winter. This was contrasted by the outdoors, spring like setting of Bohemia.

The live performance of The Winter's Tale was much more lively and had a touch of humor in scenes where I hadn't imagined it before. Leontes was very powerful. His rage was well portrayed, but it was also interlaced with humor, and this gave his character a new dimension. He interacted well with the audience, and his humor reflected his knowledge of the audience's tastes.

The garden scene was also effective. Actually having the Bohemia scenes outside was a great touch, and it brought the audience into the action. The use of the picnic table, the well, and the swing was very successful in bringing images of spring to mind. It was definitely more enjoyable to spend three hours entertained by actors than spending three hours in the library with a relatively flat performance.

Jesse Lohnes (from Film Journal: The Winter's Tale)

The film production of The Winter's Tale was performed in an interesting manner. I particularly liked the acting done by King Leontes in the film, especially his speeches directed towards the audience, when the camera zoomed in on his face, and he spoke sternly. This made a far greater impact than I got when I simply read the play. The shapes used in the film also created a background effect. The same stage was used for each scene, with a triangular runway, spheres, and pillars. The big red beard which Leontes wore is just how I would have pictured him. I also thought that the scene with the bear was rather humorous.

Compared with the film and reading the play, upon seeing The Winter's Tale in person, I had the best experience. It was enjoyable to see the actors performing each scene right in front of me. I thought that Leontes had a great performance. The use of his loud voice gave a strong sense of anger and he even became red in the face. His facial gestures also helped to gain audience approval, even comic relief. The person who played the clown was the perfect size, and the personality came across well. I enjoyed the garden scene with Autolycus. It was a clever idea to have it out in the Mission garden. Overall, I enjoyed the play immensely.

Roy Beagle (510 Players --Not So Sad)

The English 510 Players rendition of Shakespeare's The Winters Tale, differed quite dramatically from the BBC. production. By making the character of Leontes comedic instead of tragic the whole tone of the play is lightened. The somber tragic mood of the BBC. production is effective, but is too disturbing. The viewer cannot help but become depressed over the course of the storyline. The 510 Players lift this depression and make the play more accessible and enjoyable. Characters of note in this production are, Leontes, Autolycus, The Sheppard, and Time. All of the afore mentioned characters with the exception of a dark and dramatic portrayal of time, played their parts in a comic fashion. The result of which makes the play a fun experience. An experience that invites the audience's participation, rather than demanding it as both the BBC. version and text seem to do. Also adding to the play where, the employment of great costumes and music, both of which again made the production more esthetically pleasing, as well as, helping the audience to participate in the play. The moving of the stage from scene to scene also got the audience more involved. We became wrapped up in the experience of movement, that is, we were forced to take a physical journey along with the plays characters. This all adds up to the audience being won over by the production, instead of run over by the production. The Winters Tale, as this production demonstrated, does not have to be tragic, it can be quite a lot of fun actually.

Michael Phillips

(BBC) I noticed that the set was unrealistic. This could have been chosen by the director to remind the audience that it is seeing a "tale," and not reality. I thought the flirting between Hermione and Leontes was really played up, yet at the same time, the color of each actor's costume revealed the truth. Leontes wore black, Hermione wore cream or white, and Mamillius wore a mixture of the two colors, gray.

(510 players) What I enjoyed about this production was the interactivity that the audience had with the cast and the play itself. The actors made their entrances and exits by walking through the audience. At the point where Hermione is carried out, there wasn't enough room for the actors to leave. Instead of the actors saying, "Excuse me," they improvised and said, "Make way for the Queen. Make way for the Queen." By doing this, the actors kept in character, and they made the audience seem like an actual audience to a king. Finally, the audience couldn't help but be involved with the play, as it had to move out into the garden, and then later, into the chapel.





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