"The Winter's Tale" Provides New Take on Old Story

Jealousy. Rage. Infidelity. Abandonment. Remorse.

These words set the stage for a drama filled with emotion and entertainment.

Union University Players presented William Shakespeare’s “The Winter’s Tale,” March 10–15, 2011, in the W.D. Powell Theatre. Although the cast performed the play in the original modern English, guest director Kevin Anderton, assistant professor of communication and theater at Lambuth University, gave it a modern twist.

The play, one of Shakespeare’s final and lesser-known dramas, takes place in Sicilia and Bohemia and was first performed in the early 1600s.

The players modernized “The Winter’s Tale” by wearing costumes and wardrobe from the Civil War-era instead of the 17th century.

The play centers on the actions of a rash king who wrongfully accuses his wife and best friend of adultery and suffers the consequences of those actions. The plot may weigh heavily on the audience at times, but the drama is not without comic relief.

Chad Hoy, senior theater major, has participated in five plays during his career at Union, but has been in more than 30 plays total. His role in this performance as the Shepherd adds a touch of humor to the drama.

Hoy said it has been a different experience working with Anderton instead of the usual director David Burke, professor and director of theater at Union University.

“Anderton has a completely different method of how he directs,” Hoy said.

From the way he conducted tryouts to his approach in blocking scenes, Hoy said, “It’s very free-form and open. It’s a nice change of pace.”

Anderton also guest-directed Union’s 2009 performance of “Measure for Measure.”

The cast of 20, comprised mostly of Union students, introduced some new faces along with the addition of a Jackson State student and 12-year-old Ethan Fant, son of Dr. Gene Fant, vice president for academic administration and dean of the college of arts and sciences.

The cast practiced three hours a day until performances started because of the challenging nature of the play.

The Old English and alliteration from Shakespeare’s drama required hard work from the cast to master the unusual lines. However, cast members said they enjoyed the change in pace.

“It’s a nice change from plays written today,” Hoy said.