Shakespeare's The Winter's Tale to play two shows only

Prague Shakespeare Company will bring Bohemia's coast to the Estate's Theatre

Shakespeare mentions Bohemia in just one of his plays, so it makes sense for Prague Shakespeare Company to give it special treatment. The Winter's Tale is perhaps most famous suggesting Bohemia has a seacoast (travel tip: it doesn't) but nonetheless it has a special place in Czech hearts. It will have just two performances at the Estates Theatre, one of Prague's most opulent venues, on Oct. 13 and 14.

The play will be bi-lingual, with the parts set in Bohemia performed in Czech with English surtitles. The rest of the play is in English, with Czech surtitles. The Czech text is based on the translation by Martin Hilský.

The production is their second this season at the Estates Theatre, following Richard III, which was also presented at Prague Castle as part of its summer program.

The Winter's Tale — described as a tragicomedy of love, jealousy, forgiveness and redemption — will be directed by Guy Roberts, who will also appear as Leontes. The cast also includes Jessica Boone as Hermione, the British Ambassador to the Czech Republic Jan Thompson OBE as Paulina, Gregory Gudgeon as Camillo and Bill Roberts as Antigonus, along with many PSC regulars such as Vanessa Gendron, John Poston, Fanette Ronjat, Grant Podelco and Bob Boudreaux. Among the Czech actors joining in is Karel Heřmánek Jr., Štěpán Benoni and Lucie Špičková. Choreography is by Dana Morávková.

“It is a privilege and honor to work in the Estates Theatre and share Shakespeare in the original language along with Martin Hilsky’s very funny and very poignant translation of Shakespeare’s famous play set 'on the coast of Bohemia.' The production will also reunited me working once again with my father which is always a special treat,” Guy Roberts said.

“As with most Shakespeare plays, the strength and soul lie with the female characters and the female presence, so we are heightening that by casting women in some traditionally male roles. The wonderful Lucie Špičkova plays Queen Polixenia — we are playing this role as a woman. This will allow us to take a different look at sexual jealousy and experience the story with a new and unique perspective. We felt confident to make this change based on the openness of the Shakespeare’s original text,” he said, adding that it opened up a lot of possibilities.

“Once you open the door to paranoia and suspicion, anything becomes possible. … Leontes has a truly psychotic breakdown and this casting choice, while untraditional, heightens that. We have also cast the terrifically talented Anežka Rusevová as the Shepard. While this is also a traditionally male role, by switching the gender we are likewise able to strengthen the female presence in the story and examine the subplot with the Clown and Autolycus in a new manner,” he added.

“I am also delighted to be reunited with some of my favorite Czech actors: Karel Heřmánek Jr., who plays the dashing and romantic Prince Florizel, Štěpán Benoni who charms his way into the ladies’ and the audience’s heart with his devilish Autolycus and the delightful ingénues sharing the role of the Princess Perdita – Vanda Chaloupková and Klára Jelínková. It is also such a great pleasure to be reunited with Nikol Kouklová and work for the first time with the talented Marie Kružíková, and all of our wonderful Czech actors,” Guy Roberts said, adding his thanks to the Kolowrat family for its support.

The Winter's Tale is considered one of Shakespeare's problem plays. It is sometimes classified as a comedy, while others place it with his late romances. Some critics claim the story is in part derived from that of Anne Boleyn, but had names and places changed. The main plot, though, certainly comes from Robert Greene's pastoral romance Pandosto, published in 1588. The original date of Shakespeare's plays is unknown, but it falls into his later efforts. Greene's version also gave a coast to Bohemia. Shakespeare changed some roles and moved some of the action around but still kept the basic geographical error.

Partners of the production are Kolowrat-Krakowsky family, the City of Prague, International School Prague, the British Embassy Prague and Barrandov Studio. Prague Shakespeare Company thanks JUDr. Dominika Kolowrat-Krakowska, Maximilian Kolowrat-Krakowsky and Francesca Kolowrat-Krakowska for their selfless and generous support.

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