(Lenox, MA) – Shakespeare & Company presents Shakespeare’s Cymbeline, directed by Founding Artistic Director Tina Packer. This tale of love and passion, produced for the first time on the Company’s Mainstage, runs in the Tina Packer Playhouse from July 4 to August 6, 2017. The production also marks a personal milestone for Packer, who, after opening her production of Cymbeline, will have directed all 37 plays in the Shakespeare canon.
“Cymbeline is a play about redemption,” said Packer. “It has a lot of comedy in it because you can’t really have redemption unless you laugh a lot. Laughter is the tool of making everything right again. But the play also has a lot of tragedy in it, passion and anger. It’s based very loosely in historical truth, very loosely, so it is a history play too; in all, a comedy, a tragedy and a history — it’s all those things.”
(Click HERE to watch the video trailer.)
Cymbeline bears the wondrous language of the seasoned playwright through wild plot twists, mistaken identities, and a heart-rending quest for love. Packer’s production features Tamara Hickey and Jonathan Epstein of last summer’s The Merchant of Venice, along with Jason Asprey, Thomas Brazzle, Nigel Gore, Deaon Griffin-Pressley, Ella Loudon, Josh Aaron McCabe, and Bella Merlin. All the actors play multiple roles—rarely leaving the stage. The creative team includes Kris Stone (Set Design), Deb Sullivan (Lighting Design), Tyler Kinney (Costume Design) and David Reiffel (Sound Design).
“Imogen, played by Tamara Hickey, is the moral center of the play,” said Packer. “She’s one of Shakespeare’s most delightful heroines. She stands up to her father, is not deceived by her wicked step-mother, stands by her husband through all his short sighted wagers, finds another family, resists the seducer’s charms, and generally does her sex proud! Cymbeline, the play’s namesake, played by Jonathan Epstein, anchors the play as the King and hold the pieces together. If you’ve never come to Shakespeare & Company before this is a fantastic play to come out for. We have some of the real veterans of the company in this show and it’s a rich play that in the end reflects our life back to us.”
For Packer, who first envisioned the Company forty years ago, this anniversary season also celebrates her completion of Shakespeare’s canon. After directing Cymbeline for the first time this season she will have directed the entire canon.
“When you work on Shakespeare’s plays as a director, you get to see the underpinnings of his thinking,” said Packer. “By finishing the canon, I feel that I have all the plays mapped out now, and it allows me to look at the whole of his work— I can follow the development of his thought patterns.” Packer notes that Cymbeline “echoes pieces from every other play, so I’m glad I know all the others before I begin. For Shakespeare goers it becomes a kind of treasure hunt, you look for all the bits of the other plays that are in this play.”
Tickets for Cymbeline are available online at shakespeare.org, or by calling Shakespeare & Company’s box office at (413) 637-3353. The Tina Packer Playhouse is air-conditioned and wheelchair accessible. Shakespeare & Company is located at 70 Kemble Street in Lenox, Massachusetts.
AT A GLANCE
PLAYWRIGHT: William Shakespeare
DIRECTOR: Tina Packer
SET DESIGNER: Kris Stone
LIGHTING DESIGNER: Deb Sullivan
COSTUME DESIGNER: Tyler Kinney
SOUND DESIGNER: David Reiffel
STAGE MANAGER: Hope Rose Kelly
MOVEMENT DIRECTOR: Kristin Wold
VOCAL COACH: Gwendolyn Schwinke
ASSISTANT DIRECTORS: Noa Egozi, Raphael Massey, and Kholoud Sawaf
CLOTEN: Jason Asprey
POSTHUMOUS: Thomas Brazzle
CYMBELINE: Jonathan Epstein
BELARIUS / CAIUS LUCIUS: Nigel Gore
PISANIO: Deaon Griffin-Pressley
IMOGEN: Tamara Hickey
GUIDERIUS: Ella Loudon
IACHIMO: Josh Aaron McCabe
QUEEN / AVIRAGUS: Bella Merlin
About Tina Packer
Founding Member (Founding Artistic Director; Director, Cymbeline; Actor, Women of Will). She has directed most of Shakespeare’s plays (some of them several times), acted in eight of them (never when directing) and taught the whole canon one way or another at over thirty colleges, including Harvard, M.I.T. and NYU. At Columbia University, she taught in the M.B.A. program for four years, resulting in the publication of Power Plays: Shakespeare’s Lessons in Leadership and Management with Deming Professor John Whitney for Simon and Schuster. For Scholastic, she wrote Tales from Shakespeare, a children’s book and recipient of the Parent’s Gold Medal Award. Most recently Tina’s book Women of Will was published by Knopf. For the last three years, she has been performing Women of Will with Nigel Gore, in New York, Mexico, England, The Hague, China and across the US. Her acting credits include: Shirley Valentine, Molly Ivins, The Beauty Queen of Leenane, Mother of the Maid; and most recently Volumnia in Coriolanus. She’s the recipient of numerous awards, honorary degrees, including the Commonwealth Award. This May, Salem State University honored her with a Lifetime Achievement Award in the Arts.
About Cymbeline’s Plot:
Written in 1609, Cymbeline is generally regarded as a comedy, although it also has elements of tragedy and romance. Cymbeline is the King of Britain and he has three children, a daughter, Imogen, and two sons, Guiderius and Arivaragus. The two boys have been missing for a long time and appear in disguise as Polydore and Cadwal. They have been raised in the woods by Balarius, a banished lord, who has kidnapped them and educated them into gentlemen. The Queen is Cymbeline’s second wife, a power-hungry and scheming woman who wants Imogen to be killed so that she can get her hands on her inheritance for her son, Cloten. Cloten is a cloddish, nasty young man, who wants to marry Imogen so that he can inherit the throne. However Imogen has other plans. She falls in love with Posthumus Leonatus, a noble young man, and marries him in secret. Their love is tested, betrayed and finally redeemed. The play’s themes of truth triumphing over falsehood, good over evil, are exemplified in the life of the heroine, Imogen. Appearance and reality infuses the play— there is magic and mischief and nothing is as it seems.
About William Shakespeare
(Playwright, Cymbeline, The Tempest, A Midsummer Night’s Dream). He was an English poet, playwright, and actor, widely regarded as the greatest writer in the English language and the world’s pre-eminent dramatist. His works, including some collaborations, consist of about 37 plays, 154 sonnets, two long narrative poems, and several other poems. His plays have been translated into every major living language and are performed more often than those of any other playwright.
About Shakespeare & Company
Located in the Berkshires of Western Massachusetts, Shakespeare & Company is one of the largest Shakespeare Festivals in the country. Founded in 1978, the organization attracts over 30,000 patrons annually. The Company is also home to Shakespeare & Company’s internationally renowned Center for Actor Training and nationally renowned and award-winning Education Program. More information is available at www.shakespeare.org.