Cal Shakes The Winter’s Tale Sept. 1-26

(Courtesy of Ulises Alcala)
“Exit, pursued by a bear” is a famous stage direction in Shakespeare’s The Winter’s Tale taking place at the Bruns Amphitheater Sept. 1-26. Normally, a bear is never seen onstage but co-adaptors Director Eric Ting and Dramaturg Philippa Kelly had a different idea for Cal Shakes staging of this seldom seen work by the Bard. According to Kelly, the “infamous Bear comes to life in this production.” As to why the Bear is wearing a dress in Costume Designer Ulises Alcala’s sketch, you’ll have to see the show to find out!

    Excitement abounds as Cal Shakes returns to the stage for the Sept. 1 debut of William Shakespeare’s The Winter’s Tale (TWT) adapted by Philippa Kelly and Eric Ting, who also directs. “I’m humbled to be joined by such extraordinary Bay Area artists as we navigate Shakespeare’s profound examination of jealousy and love, friendship and suspicion, loss and reunion and the lengths we’ll go to to avoid the hard-and liberating-truths. This is a grand collaboration, filled with music and dance and laughter and tears and maybe-just maybe-a codpiece or two,” said Ting.
   TWT famously explores the irrational, disastrous jealousy of King Leontes, its consequences and an eventual return to a new normal, literally ending in the renewal of spring. Resident Dramaturg Philippa Kelly said, “It brings up intriguing questions such as: What does it mean to repent? And, in order to be forgiven, does the transgressor need to understand the true meaning of their wrongdoing in terms of its impact on the person(s) offended? The extent of the damage King Leontes does is partly due to his power, authority and influence.”
   According to Kelly, Ting has been very much interested in staging characters who embrace imperfection. Since human beings are all imperfect, the premise of this adaptation is that, transcending reason, we all ultimately use love, hatred and jealousy to explore our experience.
   TWT’s early tragic overtures end, as only Shakespeare can manage, when events of the past lead to the merriment of young lovers and happily reunited elders. Reconciliation leaves us bathed in the renewal of spring.
   Dating back to 1611, Shakespearean actors generally performed multiple roles and that is certainly true of Cal Shakes production with its nine actors portraying 16 characters. The cast for TWT features such well-known actors as Safiya Fredericks, Dean Linnard, Craig Marker, Regina Morones, Cathleen Riddley, Sharon Shao, Victor Talmadge, Dane Troy and Phil Wong.
   Creative crew members tuning up for performances of their first and only five-act play in their 47th season include: scenic designer Tanya Orellana, costume designer Ulises Alcala, lighting designer Wen-Ling Liao, sound designer Michael Kelly, resident dramaturg Philippa Kelly, movement choreographer Kendra Kimbrough Barnes, vocal/text coach Lisa Ann Porter, resident fight director Dave Maier, stage manager Cheryle Honerlah, assistant stage manager Michaela Byrne and music director Phil Wong.
   The Winter’s Tale runs Sept. 1- 26; cost is $30-$65. Evening performances are 7:30 p.m.; Sunday matinees at 4 p.m. and select Saturday matinees at 2 p.m. Located at 100 Shakespeare Way in Orinda, The Bruns Amphitheater offers ample parking and ADA assistance to the outdoor theater and grounds. Warm clothes for evening performances are suggested. Theater goers often show up two hours before a performance to enjoy a picnic on the outdoor tables. For more information, visit, email or call 510.548.9666.

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