UA Theatre brings Shakespeare’s “The Winter’s Tale” to UA

CW Staff

It’s not an easy thing to take a nearly 400-year-old Shakespearean play and transform it into a show for a modern audience. It also isn’t easy to turn a four-and-a-half-hour tragedy into a one-and-a-half-hour production. This, however, is exactly what the UA Department of Theater and Dance has done.

William Shakespeare’s “The Winter’s Tale,” as adapted by director Guy Fauchon and the theater department, will premiere Tuesday at 7:30 p.m. at the Allen Bales Theater.

“I think this is probably one of the best adaptations of Shakespeare that I’ve ever read or seen,” said Brad Lee, a junior majoring in business management and theatre who is the assistant director of the play.

The theater department decided to cut the play down in length to make it easier and more understandable for the audience, Lee said.

“Everything is a debate,” Lee said. “Everything has a point in Shakespeare because that’s what the Elizabethans expected. There was this great comedy for the groundlings, for the people in the bottom of the theater, which is a lot of what we cut because it was stuff that people would have never understood. It’s all about the story, and Guy has really tried to get the story down where it’s the story that we want to tell.”

Fauchon is a graduate student in the master’s of fine arts in directing program. “The Winter’s Tale” will be his final production at the University.

“This is the first show that I’ve worked with Guy and I was really excited to get to work with him on a show before he left,” Lee said. “It’s something I’ve always wanted to do.”

“The Winter’s Tale” is the story of the tyrannical King Leontes, who suspects betrayal and adultery between his wife and best friend. David Bolus, a junior majoring in theatre and Chinese, plays Leontes.

“One thing with Shakespeare is that there is heritage behind every role,” Bolus said. “A lot of people have played Leontes before, and now I’m trying to do that, too.”

Last semester, Bolus played the part of Einstein in the comedy, “Picasso at the Lapin Agile.”

“I was still thinking in terms of almost farcical comedy, and then we had auditions and I had to force myself into thinking more like a jealous tyrant,” he said. “I didn’t think I was doing a very good job, but I guess someone saw something.”

Bolus said he auditioned for the play with a scene from “Richard III,” hoping to play the part of either Leontes or Antigonus, one of the most loyal and compassionate men in the play, he said.

“When we came in, I was called back for Leontes and nothing else,” he said.

One of the biggest inspirations for Bolus to try out for “The Winter’s Tale” is his love for Shakespeare, he said.

“I’d read ‘King Lear’ or ‘Hamlet’ over and over again,” Bolus said. “Another big factor was actually Guy. Everyone that works with him says it’s a transforming experience as an actor, and it actually has been.”

Bolus said Fauchon has his actors start off each rehearsal with breathing warm-ups to prepare their bodies and minds for acting.

“It’s made me a lot more aware of how the body is the actor’s instrument and should be kept fairly well tuned,” Bolus said. “I feel a lot more connected to my body.”

“The Winter’s Tale” will be playing at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday and at 2 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday.

All shows except the Saturday and Sunday matinees have been sold out. There will be stand-by ticketing available starting one hour before each performance. Tickets to the show are $10 and can be purchased at the box office in the lobby of Rowand-Johnson Hall and at the Allen Bales Theater before each showing.