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WHU Shakespeare Drama Club adaptation of The Winter’s Tale wows audience
Author:Ruan Zehan  Date:2021-02-24  Clicks:

On December 20th, 2020, the Shakespeare Drama Club (SDC) of WHU staged their adaptation of Shakespeare’s The Winter’s Tale as their annual performance in the hall of the School of Foreign Languages and Literature, wowing the audiences from both WHU and other universities.

Poster of The Winter’s Tale

Written toward the end of William Shakespeare’s theatrical career, The Winter’s Tale is a story of loss and redemption. In a fit of wild and unfounded jealousy, Leontes, the King of Sicily, convinces himself that his pregnant wife, Hermione, is carrying his best friend’s love child. Leontes’s jealousy turns to tyranny as the king proceeds to destroy his entire family and the lifelong friendship. Sixteen long years pass by, and then the audience witnesses one of the most astonishing endings in English literature.

Su Hengyue singing the theme song ‘Time’

This new version of Shakespeare’s great play, being irrational and inexplicable, is directed by Lai Yingping. Combining lines from Henry IV with the original theme song Time, Hermione is seen pulling out the dagger but then gives up killing her husband unlike the original finale. Leontes notices what Hermione tried to do and pauses in the middle of the stage, sunk in thought. Then the play ends.

Zhang Ying, who played Hermione, contemplates, “Who is Hermione? A princess who grew up in the glory of the kingdom since childhood? A loyal and innocent queen? A miserable pregnant mother? A tough, independent woman? I think she is way more than that.” For sixteen years, Hermione has wanted to kill Leontes more than once, but when she was resurrected, he repented and hugged her tightly. For sixteen years, Hermione wanted to let herself go more than let him go.

Hermione (Zhang Ying) trying to kill Leontes (Xu Tianyi)

The production team consisted of students from more than ten schools, including the School of Foreign Languages and Literature, the School of Journalism and Communication, the School of Chinese Linguistics and Literature, the School of Information Management, the School of Urban Design and so on. These devoted actors started to prepare for the play from the early beginning of this semester. They studied diverse versions of the play, delved deeply into the lines and finally brought out perfectly the best of the characters.

Xu Tianyi, the actor of Leontes, once said in a lecture, “When looking at a villain, we should not focus on how atrocious he is, what bad things he did or what kind of retribution and punishment he received in the end, but on how he became a villain.” Leontes symbolizes an extreme example of this dramatic situation. He represents a hodgepodge of the evils of us all. Our condemnation of him is not only our condemnation of him, but also a kind of relief to our hearts. We repeatedly remind ourselves that there are still such unbearable people in the world in order to attain a certain kind of self-redemption.

The whole cast took the curtain call

As the curtain drew, the show won tremendous applause. Afterward the whole team introduced themselves and answered several questions raised by enthusiastic members of the audience. Thanks for everyone’s contribution on and behind the stage that brought us so much surprise and affability. There’s no doubt that the performance brought both cast and audience ‘a merry winter’s tale’.

Photo by Zhao Jiaxi

Edited by Jiang Chiheng, Yu Jianan, Wei Yena, Qin Shihan


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