Victoria Esplanade, Palmerston North

02/03/2017 - 11/03/2017

Production Details

Shakespeare’s fantastical The Winter’s Tale is a first for Summer Shakespeare.  It is known as something of a tragicomic conundrum as the first three acts are intensely psychologically and dramatic, yet, from the pivotal entry of a rampant bear the play veers abruptly into broad comedy.   

Consumed by jealousy, the King of Sicilia turns tyrannical wrecking havoc on those he loves most.  The oracle of Apollo decrees his throne will be forever without an heir until, “that which is lost be found”.  Though slight acts of defiance, kindness and a good dose of luck; a condemned child survives.

Only one voice can move the King (Shakespeare’s most forthright and reasoned female characters) Paulina, who just like those old wives that tell wild tales by the fire on a winter’s night speaks wisdom.  After a gap of sixteen years of repentance, that which was lost is found, a queen is brought back from the death and a daughter restored.  Whether all is forgiven or not – Shakespeare leaves up to his audience.

Containing something for everyone, this late work penned in 1611, features the world’s most famous stage direction, “Exit pursued by a bear”.   It promises to epic in scale involving a cast of 40 including; musicians, fire breathing and live horses.  It is directed and choreographed by New Zealand Arts Laureate Sara Brodie, and features original music by Suzi Hawes. 

This year the site is the bridal path on the banks of the mighty Manawatu, down the path from the paddling pool near the Esplanade Cafe.  Vendors will be lined up on site for those in need of sustenance.  Seating is available, easy wheelchair access and plenty of space for picnickers.  The audience meeting point either on site or at the paddling pool for a processional walk down five minutes prior to performance time.

Victoria Esplanade Gardens, Fitzherbert Avenue, Palmerston North
2nd, 3rd & 4th; 9th, 10th, 11th March 2017 at 7.30pm
matinee on 5th March at 2.00pm. 
Entry is by Koha, so there are no excuses not to attend and enjoy the perfect night out of eighty minutes of Shakespeare under the stars.

Leontes:  Matt Waldin
Leontes & Ensemble:  Jessica McLean
Leontes & Ensemble:  Alessia Morel
Leontes & Ensemble:  Ashleigh Matheson
Hermione:  Kristen Reilly 
Camillo:  Bruce Sinclair
Mamillius & Ensemble:  Matt Schaw
Paulina:  Therese McCrea 
Old Shepherd:  Paul Lyons 
Diorcas & Ensemble:  Lisa Hall 
Perdita :  Rachel McLean
Florizel :  Aaron McLean
Polixenes:  Ethan Bermeister
Antigonus & Ensemble:  Philip Mills
Autolycus:  Tobias Lockhart 
Clown:  Jack Edens 
First Lord, Time, & Ensemble:  Mark Kilsby
Dion, Mopsa & Ensemble:  Catherine Bradley
Officer, Ensemble & Fire Fans:  Emma Campbell
Mariner & Ensemble:  Sam Wyss
Cleomenes & Ensemble:  Polly Pyefinch
Servant & Ensemble:  Sarah Angland
Emilia & Ensemble:  Krista McJarrow-Keller
Servant & Ensemble:  Sophie Auckram
First Lady &  Ensemble:  Kate Nolan
Gaoler, Servant & Ensemble:  Aidan Berkahn
Archidamus, Ensemble & Fire Staff:  Cameron Dickons
Servant, Ensemble & Fire Poi:  Beth Ellen
Fire Staff & Breather:  Jake
Keyboard & Fiddle:  Vivienne  McGlynn
Percussion:  Simon Loveday
Clarinet/alto recorder:  Deb Middleton
Guitar:  Jenny Loveday
Flute :  Alwyn Bakker  

Director & Choreographer:  Sara Brodie
Composer:  Suzie Hawes
Production Manager:  Karen Newton
Executive producer:  Angie Farrow
Lighting Design:  Pierce Barber
Costume Co-ordinator:  Lee Matthews
Costume sourcing & construction:  Karen Newtown, Lee Matthews (with special thanks to Elizabeth Whiting)
Assistant Director:  Peri Chappelle
Music co-ordinator:  Vivienne McGlynn
Stage Managers:  Nick Green, Megan Green
Sound Operator:  Sasha Lipinsky
Sound Assistant:  Jess   Robertson
Set:  Nick Green
Mask Design:  Leda Farrow
Publicity & Marketing:  Leah Viles
Poster Design:  Cameron Dickons  

Theatre , Outdoor ,

A strong team

Review by John C Ross 06th Mar 2017

“‘Exit pursued by a bear’” – as the director’s note in the programme says – “is the world’s most famous stage direction”, and it flips the tone of this play from Othello-style tragedy to pastoral romance comedy. You have to wonder whether in Shakespeare’s day his acting company borrowed a real bear, from the bear-baiting pit nearby. This production has a huge bear-head with fiercely gaping jaws, a black cloth behind it, and three pairs of legs beneath, like a Chinese lion-dance lion It enters and exits rather abruptly, yet, like everything else in this production, it works really well.

Reviewers of primarily-amateur productions often face a “Don’t shoot the pianist – he’s doing his best” dilemma – but this one needs no such concession. It’s a great credit to the director, Sara Brodie, a New Zealand Arts Foundation Laureate (who is also the choreographer). Angie Farrow, as executive producer, has assembled a strong team around her, including, once again, Suzie Hawes, who has composed the music for a six-piece band. 

As an outdoor production, this is located in a clearing-area on the Esplanade by the side of the Manawatu River, using a relatively narrow rectangular stage-space, defined by a white cord laid along the ground, with a vista towards the river at one end, and trees at the other. The audience sits on rows of bleacher-seating along both sides, or lounging on the grass. The only ‘set’ within this space is a smallish assembly of rostra and blocks, re-assembled halfway through. The issue of audibility is dealt with by equipping all the speaking actors with personal mikes – and this technology works impeccably. Luckily, so far at least.

This production’s primary innovation is to have King Leontes’ dark soliloquies, in which he becomes increasingly obsessed with a conviction that his wife Hermione has been cheating on him with his friend King Polixenes, performed by three black-garbed young women. Matt Walden as Leontes carries his character well, conveying both his authority and his insecurity, with Jessica McLean, Alessia Morel and Ashleigh Matheson dividing-up the words of his jealously paranoid fantasies, and formatting themselves around him.  

Kristin Reilly as Hermione is poised, dignified, clear-speaking, elegantly queenly. Rachel McLean is equally capable as her lost daughter Perdita, and physically similar enough to be fitting as such. Therese McCrea gives clarity and authority to the matronly courtier Paulina. 

A trio of veterans, Bruce Sinclair as Camillo, Mark Kilsby as the First Lord, Time, and an ensemble-member, and Paul Lyons as the Old Shepherd, give a depth of experience, strength and capability to the cast. Tobias Lockhart as Autolycus the swindler and petty thief is at certain points accorded a kind of choric or master of ceremonies function.

Ethan Bermeister manages well the fairly straight role of Polyxenes, as does Philip Mills with that of Antigonus. One can’t include mentions of every cast-member, but they are all very adequate.

The performance I attend is a Sunday afternoon matinee; the production is clearly designed for performance in the evenings, when the use of fire staff, poi and fans by three performers during the ‘shearing feast’ would doubtless be more spectacular. 


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Summer Shakespeare scores with an adventurous outdoor performance

Review by Richard Mays 06th Mar 2017

Beautifully choreographed, elegantly styled and confidently performed, Summer Shakespeare’s production of The Winter’s Tale has plenty going for it.

There’s pageantry, drama, song and dance, live music, fire juggling and, briefly, a large and lumbering bear.

The new Summer Shakespeare location down by the river on the bridle path, much to the surprise of evening cyclists, joggers and walkers, is also a winning one. [More


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