Shakespeare’s ‘Winter’s Tale’ takes center stage

Meredith Compton

The School of Theatre and Dance presented a story of romance, tragedy and mystery this weekend. The school opened its production of Shakespeare’s “The Winter’s Tale” as part of the annual Roe Green Visiting Director Series.

The production was directed by guest director Vincent Dowling, the founding director of the Miniature Theatre of Chester, Mass., and former Artistic Director of The Abbey Theatre of Dublin.

“I am indebted to the president and faculty of this great university,” Dowling said in a letter, “especially all of those wonderful people in the School of Theatre and Dance who give themselves completely to all of the plays, dances, the students and people like me who come as their guests.”

The story of “The Winter’s Tale” centers around the character of Leontes, the King of Sicilia, and his pregnant wife, Hermione. Leontes thinks Hermione is cheating on him with his long-time friend Polixenes, king of the nearby country of Bohemia. Eventually Leontes sends Hermione to prison where she gives birth to their daughter. Leontes tells a friend, Paulina, to take the baby and abandon it in the desert. Paulina passes on the task to her husband, Antigonus. Soon after, a shepherd finds the baby and adopts her. Hermione later dies due to the grief of her son, Mamillius’, death.

Later in the story, the baby, now 16 years old and named Perdita, falls in love with Polixenes’ son, Florizel. Florizel is in disguise, however, and hiding from his father. Through an interesting course of events, all turns out well.

The cast features more than 30 Kent State students ranging from freshmen to graduate students.

The Roe Green Visiting Director Series began in 2003, when the Roe Green Foundation pledged to donate $25,000 a year for five years to the School of Theatre and Dance to establish this series. Both the series and the foundation are named for Roe Green, a local patron of the arts.

Green is currently a member of the Kent State and Porthouse Theatre advisory boards. In January, the Roe Green Foundation pledged $6.5 million, the largest capital gift in Kent State history. This gift will help to create an addition to the Music and Speech Building and allow theater and dance to be united under one roof for the first time since the two programs merged in 1994.

Performances will continue this week. They will be tomorrow through Saturday at 8 p.m. and Sunday at 2 p.m. in Wright-Curtis Theatre in the Music and Speech Building. Tickets are $8 for students, $10 for seniors, alumni and faculty and $12 for adults.

Contact performing arts reporter Meredith Compton at [email protected]