A sad tale is best for winter

The Winters Tale promo image.
The Winters Tale promo image.

It might be known as a ‘problem play’ for its difficulty to define, but that hasn’t stopped Monash University students from tackling William Shakespeare’s The Winter’s Tale.

When King Leontes suddenly accuses his queen of adultery, attempts to assassinate his childhood friend and banishes his newborn daughter, he sets in motion an extraordinary train of events – a fitful dream of jealousy, madness, rebirth and redemption.

The Winter’s Tale journey’s from intense psychological drama to pastoral comedy, replete with mayhem, miracles and a marriage.

This production of Shakespeare’s problem play, presented by the Monash Centre for Theatre and Performing Arts, draws on puppetry, music and magic to explore the howling joys and terrors of the text with a particular focus on childhood and play.

Director John Kachoyan, who was Bell Shakespeare’s 2012 Director in Residence, said The Winter’s Tale is a fascinating play – part-tragedy, part-comedy and part-romance.

“I think the fact The Winter’s Tale defies the lure of easy definition is part of its wonder. It can be told to children around a fire over a long winter’s night, serve as a lesson or simply be entertaining, depending on the teller and of course, the audience,” Mr Kachoyan said.

However, what drew Mr Kachoyan to The Winter’s Tale was something else; the figure of Mamillius, the son of the King Leontes.

“I was drawn to this boy because Shakespeare himself had lost a son prior to writing this play, which is one of his last works. It’s a story I wanted to share with people,” Mr Kachoyan said.

“It’s been a pleasure to work with young actors on this late Shakespeare, with its loose sinewy verse, unique structure and mysterious ending; their energy has brought it to life.

“It’s fantastic as a Director to work with students. The pressures are different and I get to learn again, to be a student of Shakespeare and theatre, and to simply play again.”

Performed by third-year Bachelor of Performing Arts students, ‘The Winter’s Tale’ will be on show from Thursday 10 October to Saturday 12 October 2013, at the Drama Theatre, Monash University Clayton campus. Entry is $10. To book your tickets call the Monash Academy of Performing Arts (MAPA) Box Office on +61 3 9905 1111 or visit the MAPA website.

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