(Ashland, Ore.) – The Theatre Arts program of the Oregon Center for the Arts at Southern Oregon University presents William Shakespeare’s “The Winter’s Tale” in the Center Stage Theatre on the Southern Oregon University campus. Performances run Thursday-Saturday, May 21-23 and May 28-30 at 8 p.m. and Saturday-Sunday, May 30-31 at 2 p.m.
One of the last plays Shakespeare ever wrote, “The Winter’s Tale” is also one of his most extraordinary, moving from tragedy to pastoral romp to transcendent magic act. King Leontes of Sicilia seemingly destroys his entire family by inexplicably accusing his innocent queen of adultery. After this catastrophic start, the play shifts locales and leaps ahead 16 years, focusing on the king’s abandoned daughter who, unaware of her true identity, holds the key to a series of unexpected reconciliations, culminating in one of the most famous denouements in theater history.
The SOU production sets the play in an abstract ancient setting, modeled on Arthurian Britain, and plays up the importance of women in orchestrating the play’s sublime finale. The play’s middle section, set at a pastoral “Sheep-Shearing Festival,” will feature live Celtic music performed by Kevin Carr and Pat O’Scannell.
“The play was relatively unappreciated for centuries,” says production dramaturg Laura Beresford. “Scholars and directors both sort of re-discovered it in the 1970s. Just like that, it became clear to everyone that ‘The Winter’s Tale’ is one of Shakespeare’s greatest achievements.”
One such production in the 1970s took place at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival. Directed by Audrey Stanley and starring James Edmondson as Leontes, it had a major impact on David McCandless, who directs the SOU production. “I was quite young at the time but, by the time the show was over, I knew that I wanted to be involved in making theater,” said McCandless, who grew up in Medford and has returned to the Rogue Valley after stints as a professor at UC Berkeley and Carleton College and is in his fifth year as Professor of Theatre Arts and Director of Shakespeare Studies at SOU.
His most recent productions include “The Metal Children,” “Invisible Threads” (which he also wrote) and “A Midsummer Night’s Dream.”
The cast of “The Winter’s Tale” includes Sarah Brizek, Nicole Bruno, Connor Bryant, Jon Cates, Connor Chaney, Caitlin Curtis, Wyeth Eliason, Truett Felt, Halli Gibson, Alice Glass, Cameron Gray, Jon Alan Hulbert, Valerie Huntington, Jamin Jollo, Galen Molk, Esau Mora, Scott Padian, Jacob Phillips, Nolan Sanchez, Kyle Sanderson, Henry Steelhammer, Martha Thatcher, Mig Windows and Aleah Zimmer, along with understudies Reid Honeywell and Rachel Kostrna. The scenic designer is James Leyson, costume designer is Deborah Rosenberg, lighting designer is Mitch Weisbrod and sound designer is Noah Beauregard. Stage manager is J Ching, and assistant director is Katrina Christiansen.
Tickets are $21 regular admission, $18 senior, and $6 for students. The Performing Arts Box Office is located in the SOU Music Recital Hall lobby. Box office hours are noon to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday and two hours prior to each performance. Tickets can be purchased with a credit card over the phone by calling 541-552-6348 or online at oca.sou.edu/box-office.
About Southern Oregon University
Southern Oregon University provides outstanding student experiences, valued degrees, and successful graduates. SOU is known for excellence in faculty, intellectual creativity and rigor, quality and innovation in connected learning programs, and the educational benefits of its unique geographic location. SOU was the first university in Oregon—and one of the first in the nation—to offset 100 percent of its energy use with clean, renewable power, and it is the first university in the nation to balance 100 percent of its water consumption. Visit sou.edu.