Jessamyn McArdle (England, AC 07-09)
On a breezy August evening, members of Atlantic College and the public converged to appreciate a re-telling of one of Shakespeare’s lesser-known plays, A Winter’s Tale. St Donat’s Art Centre was lucky enough to play the only host in Wales to the Shakespeare’s Globe Touring Company, the second time St Donat’s Castle has received such a visit; earlier this month, students studying Othello and Hamlet, took part in an extremely thought inducing workshop from the Globe theatre in London.
A Winter’s Tale, a tragic and triumphant story of jealousy and forgiveness was played out on an outside stage, with the dramatic backdrop of a huge, cold, silver moon. Sitting on the grassy lawn, beside the preserved majesty of a 15th Century Castle wall overlooking the sea and watching a troupe of Shakespeare actors emerge to welcome us all in the most casual of manners, one could be forgiven for entertaining the idea that we really had been transported back to Shakespeare’s time. Even the telltale signs of a string of electric lights hanging over head, and the plastic chairs did not shatter this image, nor did the cold wind or persisting drizzle, dampen the spirit or talent of the actors.
The play began slowly, but soon, Leontes’ rage, brilliantly captured in this rendition, alighted the stage, and the whirlwind destruction of his marriage and familial relationships, had pierced the minds of the audience with questions. But the real sense of the travelling minstrel style of this performance, was really brought to life at after the interval, which begins in a much more jovial manner. Autolycus, the jester played brilliantly to the crowed, strumming a lute as if he were playing to thousands of adoring rock fans, and his character of petty thief and trickster helped to bring a contrasting humour to the often heavy and emotional scenes. Even the faint damp in the air turning into rain added to his performance as he began slipping and sliding across the stage. But all this lay second to the moving performance of Perdita and Prince Floridan, whose scene, after their forbidden love was exposed, was punctuated by the vision of Perdita lamenting in the rain, visible only in the faint spotlight created around her.
It was with general agreement that the audience heavily applauded the actors for their telling of this captivating and fantastical story. Another thanks that should have been made, was to the members of Art Centre Service, who battled against the cold and rain, two nights in a row, stewarding the performance, and for setting up and taking down the stage, without who’s help we would never have been able to enjoy this extremely special visit.
– United World College Student Magazine –