THE WINTER’S TALE
The performance will run from Wednesday to Sunday in Archie Burnette Studio
This week, the East Carolina University School of Theatre and Dance will be opening Shakespeare’s “The Winter’s Tale” in Archie Burnette Studio. The show will run Wednesday through Sunday.
The dramatic story illustrates how human weaknesses like mistrust, vanity and pettiness when paired with tremendous authority may cause people to mistake their imagination for reality.
Director Austin Jones has taken some creative liberty with the production. Rather than completing the traditional five acts, he chose to trim the show to two acts and has approached the show with a modern lens.
“For me, this show is about how we can take this older story and bring it to our present audiences to see what about the story is still relative to the human condition,” said Jones, associate professor of theatre at ECU.
First performed in the 1600s at the Globe Theatre in London, “The Winter’s Tale” contains multiple heavy topics such as misogyny and toxic masculinity.
“One of the things I always aspire to be as an artist is recognizing that these themes still exist today,” Jones said. “It’s important for me that we revisit these stories and put our modern spin on it.”
A performer at heart, Jones studied acting at the Yale School of Drama before pursuing a career in New York City. After teaching at the University of Minnesota Duluth and Ithaca College, Jones is excited to be directing his first production at ECU.
“I am learning the playhouse, the community and the university through this first production,” Jones said.
Casey Wild, a sophomore musical theater major at ECU, took a step out of her comfort zone when auditioning for the production.
“We had to prepare a Shakespeare monologue for our general auditions for the play, and I was pretty nervous just because it’s a lot different than doing a contemporary monologue,” Wild said.
Wild had little to no experience in Shakespearean plays and was shocked to be cast in ECU’s production.
“It has been very interesting to see how Austin has brought his vision to life,” Wild said. “The decision to explore Shakespeare’s tale through a modern lens has put a different spin on it than you would traditionally expect from a Shakespeare show.”
Despite having over 10 years of acting experience, Wild has had to overcome some obstacles with Shakespeare’s style of language when portraying her characters Emilia and Dorcas.
“A huge challenge of this show is making sure you know what every single word you say means and saying lines exactly as written because every word holds meaning,” Wild said. “It is a lot easier to start doing text work and analysis with a play that has been written in the last century because everything reads the way that we would say it today.”
The show promises to feature drama, romance, song, dance and even elements of horror.
“’The Winter’s Tale’ is not one of the first shows that comes to mind for people, but it’s a much more interesting plot than some of Shakespeare’s more popular shows because it deals with a lot of fundamental issues that are still seen today,” Wild said. “It is going to exceed your expectations.”
The play also boasts captivating set pieces and technical elements that enhance the show.
“There are some unique components we have incorporated to highlight the talents the students have brought in their performances and what we’ve discovered together through rehearsals,” Jones said.
Ultimately, Jones hopes that the audience leaves pondering key elements of the show.
“I really want to challenge the audience to study the themes throughout the show and I strive to leave them with great conversation and questions,” Jones said. “That is when I think we have done our job.”
“The Winter’s Tale” will be performed in Archie Burnette Studio Wednesday through Sunday. To see show times and purchase tickets, visit the School of Theatre and Dance website.