Friday night marks the end of the week and a time to unwind, a point to refresh and enjoy. What to do? Do we partake of drink at a bar, or pub? Perhaps we see a movie? These are the typical things we have come to consider as the way to best entertain, but we are mistaken. There are those who devote themselves to bringing to life plays from long ago. They bring to our region the great works from that master of the stage from the past, William Shakespeare.
This past Friday marked the first presentation of The Winter’s Tale as directed by Dana Babal, and presented by the Poor Yorick’s Players. The opening of The Winter’s Tale marks the second and final show of the troupe’s 15th season. The Players have made the Tall Tree Amphitheater in Monroeville their home since its opening in 2008. This motley group of actors has dedicated itself to the delivery of sensational artistic productions while maintaining a special emphasis on brining the work of William Shakespeare to the people of the area.
I realize that for many Pittsburgher’s the idea of traveling from the North Hills or perhaps from the South Hills all the way to Monroeville may appear daunting, but it does not take long on a Friday or Saturday evening, and your return on the investment will be immeasurable as you will be presented the gift of Shakespeare in all of his tragic imaginings. The Tall Tree Amphitheater stands amidst a grassy depression, and behind it rests a sea of green trees. You can bring reclining chairs or a blanket or two to rest upon and allow yourself to “slip the dogs of war”, or perhaps “Exit, pursued by a bear”. There can be no doubting the joy that will unfold for you as you dabble in the bedazzling language and power of The Winter’s Tale.
What a troupe of players they are, as each member of the cast brings to life the memorable lot of personalities as described by the genius of Shakespeare, they are so often tragic figures of literature. We have the mighty King of the Scilians, Leontes, as played to his glory by Tim Zeddies, and his lovely, if not scorned wife, the Queen Hermione portrayed by the incomparable Olivia Vadnais. In this tale, being one of children believed to have been born out of infidelity, we have a third party in the triad of love. This triad only exists within the delusions of Leontes. Polixenes, King of Bohemia, has the misfortune of standing accused and his character, as played by Adam Rutledge, assures us of his innocence. There simply flows an array of characters each brining their power and presence to the stage.
As the play unfolds we are given a unique look into the multitude of emotions that ebb and flow through the lives of the characters. We are brought to laughter, anger, scorn and despising as the plot unfolds and the players grow in their roles. By no means will you find The Winter’sTale something dry and boring. No, not at all. In fact, many of the players move amongst the audience drawing us in as the exploits of Kings and Queens develop, but not all the characters are of the privileged class of royals. No, we meet lowly shepherds, rogues, jailers and mariners, there are characters for everyone to enjoy.
If you thought that Shakespeare would bore you, or your last exposure to his works had been in high school then you would be most wise to meet anew the antagonists, protagonists, heroes and common folk nestled within his tales. Take the time to locate the Tall Tree Amphitheater and take in the upcoming shows by The Poor Yorick’s Players in the twilight of a summer night. You will be transported to another era and you will appreciate the masterful genius that echoes down to us from long ago.
The Winter’s Tale continues through August 15, all perfomances are free. For more information click here.
Performance Date: Friday, August 7, 2015