The Winter's Tale, Presented by the Bridge Project at the Brooklyn Academy of Music, Brooklyn, New York, February 10-March 7, 2009

By Ortiz, Joseph M. | Early Modern Literary Studies, January 2009 | Go to article overview

The Winter's Tale, Presented by the Bridge Project at the Brooklyn Academy of Music, Brooklyn, New York, February 10-March 7, 2009


Ortiz, Joseph M., Early Modern Literary Studies


Directed by Sam Mendes. Set design by Anthony Ward. Costumes by Catherine Zuber. Lighting by Paul Pyant. Hair & Wig design by Tom Watson. Sound by Paul Arditti. Music by Mark Bennett. Music direction by Dan Lipton. Casting by Nancy Piccione and Maggie Lunn. Choreography by Josh Prince. With Simon Russell Beale as Leontes, Rebecca Hall as Hermione, Morven Christie as Mamillius/Perdita, Paul Jesson as Camillo, Dakin Matthews as Antigonus, Sinead Cusack as Paulina, Josh Hamilton as Polixenes, Michael Braun as Florizel, Ethan Hawke as Autolycus, and Richard Easton as Old Shepherd/Time.

1. Laurence Olivier's 1948 film version of Hamlet begins, somewhat infamously, with a voiceover that sums up Hamlet's dilemma: "This is the tragedy of a man who thought too much." A similar slogan for the Brooklyn Academy of Music's recent Bridge Project production of The Winter's Tale might read as: "This is the tragedy of a man who drank too much." The opening scene of Sam Mendes' sleek version of the play finds the stage strewn with half-empty glasses and bottles. At one point, even the obviously pregnant Hermione pulls out a large bottle of liquor from behind a couple of sofa cushions (though the audience does not see her drink any of it, thankfully). And, in the next scene, while Leontes is mulling over the suspected infidelity of his wife, he does so at a desk littered with papers and empty whiskey glasses. These details seem purposeful, calling attention as they do to the effects of alcohol on an individual's ability to distinguish reality from fantasy: at a crucial moment in Act One, Leontes' speech on "affection" is spoken while Hermione and Polixenes are seen languidly embracing in a sea of purple lighting, blurring the distinction between what is really happening onstage and what may merely be the product of Leontes' whiskey-addled brain. The overall impression is that Leontes is not simply plagued by epistemological doubt and nihilistic skepticism, but also a man adjusting poorly to middle age.

2. Audiences similarly inclined to see The Winter's Tale as a kind of "dysfunctional family" drama would have had plenty of encouragement from this production. The play premiered shortly before the Academy Awards, precisely at the time when Revolutionary Road-Sam Mendes' other drama of disillusionment in marriage-was receiving a good amount of press attention, in part because it had been snubbed at the Oscars. (Audience members might also have recognized Richard Easton, who played the roles of Old Shepherd and Time, from Mendes' film.) In addition, the program notes for the BAM production prominently mentioned Mendes' work on Revolutionary Road, as well as his collaboration on the Bridge Project (a partnership between BAM, the Old Vic Theatre, and Neal Street Productions) with Kevin Spacey, whom Mendes directed to a Best Actor Oscar in American Beauty, his film about suburban frustration. Moreover, while Anthony Ward's set design was relatively sparse, it efficiently evoked the mundanity of modern domestic life. The boy Mamillius spent much of his time onstage either clutching a teddy bear or drawing colorful pictures with crayons, while a modern chess set sat prominently on a card table in Sicily's living room. Such details cleverly alluded to the idea of childhood and adult "play," which Shakespeare's text purposefully confuses in Act One, but they also helped to imbue the setting with an aura of familiarity.

3. Certainly, contemporary renditions of The Winter's Tale are hardly a new thing, especially in New York. In William Burton's 1856 production of The Winter's Tale at his theatre in Chambers Street, New York (one of the first American stagings of the play to use a mostly unadulterated version of the Folio text), Hermione appeared a classic Victorian gentlewoman, Bohemia was set amid rustic corn fields, and Autolycus came off as a Wall Street capitalist (Bartholomeusz 101-7). Likewise, in the BAM production, Shakespeare's Sicily seemed closer to the New York financial district than to Renaissance Italy, an impression reinforced by the fact that Bohemia looked like a Coplandesque vision of Appalachia. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Note: primary sources have slightly different requirements for citation. Please see these guidelines for more information.

Cited article

The Winter's Tale, Presented by the Bridge Project at the Brooklyn Academy of Music, Brooklyn, New York, February 10-March 7, 2009
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen
Items saved from this article
  • Highlights & Notes
  • Citations
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Search by... Author
    Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.