I lost a couple, that 'twixt heaven and earth might thus have stood begetting wonder as you, gracious couple, do: and then I lost--all mine own folly--the society, amity too, of your brave father, whom, though bearing misery, I desire my life once more to look on him. (The Winter’s Tale, Act 5, Scene 1)
And so remarks Leontes that through his own fault, he has lost greatly. In spite of his misery, he holds fast to the hope that he will one day see his old friend again. Leontes is the tragic king in Shakespeare’s The Winter's Tale, soon to be performed at Riggs Theater 37 on May 13 – 18th at 7:30pm.
Written at the end of his career and known as one of his late plays, The Winter’s Tale combines tragedy, comedy, fantasy and allegory and is ultimately about loss and redemption. Kevin Coleman, education director at Shakespeare and Company, is directing this unique blend of genres, and he describes this production as “a huge story. The first half is a break your heart tragedy and the second half is funny, even goofy while the final act is simply a miracle! It is beyond masterful with language. It is written like a fairytale and is considered one of Shakespeare’s greatest plays.”
Coleman happily admits that this play is not often produced, noting, “People are afraid, even intimidated of it but hearing the language, seeing the production is always stunning. And, it has one of the most famous stage directions written into the text. Unlike modern plays, in Shakespeare’s day, there was little, if any, stage direction but this play has ‘Exit, pursued by a bear.’” Coleman’s eyes sparkle as he devolves into energetic laughter, clearly delighted by this anachronistic element in Shakespeare’s writing.
Perhaps as intriguing as this tragic-comedy, is the fact that this play is being performed by a cast consisting of Riggs patients and Berkshire County citizens. For several decades, as part of the Activities Program, plays are performed twice a year and usually to a sold-out house. The purpose behind the program is to provide educational experiences for patients. Taking on the role of student, or in this case, the role of actor, patients learn from professionals in the field, not from clinicians. Frequently referred as a "treatment-free zone,” patients have an opportunity for new discoveries as they work on the play or endeavor in some of the other Activities offerings (textiles, painting, ceramics, horticulture, woodworking, or working in the Nursery School).
This Shakespeare production promises to be an emotional roller coaster and a delightful evening. You can always count on a Riggs Theater 37 production to combine stellar acting, creative sets, insightful directing and even the author's famous yet critical stage directions to make this a worthy experience. Call for reservations or more information 413/298-5519, ext. 5606.