A Winter’s Tale – “A psychothriller with a happy end” is the subtitle of this production of one of Shakespeare’s lesser-known works. The action begins in Sicily, in the court of King Leontes, who is jealous of his wife Hermione and accuses her of being unfaithful with his friend, the Bohemian king Polixenes. Leontes has Hermione thrown into jail and wants to have her daughter killed, not believing her to be his own. The story reaches its end years later, when the adult children of two royal fathers, Florizel and Perdita are married, ending Shakespeare’s romance. This complicate love story is one of the few Shakespeare plays not to be too overburdened by previous stage approaches, and so it can be worked with relatively freely without the danger of comparisons and binding interpretations. This unusual choice for the repertoire of the Dejvické divadlo features the acting company’s legendarily good group work, which allows both the comic and the quieter passages of this tragicomedy to shine, as well as the understated acting style, the melancholy lyricism of the set and the art of building up grotesque situations.
// Credits //
Direction Ondrej Spišák
Translation Martin Hilský
Dramaturgy Eva Suková
Set František Lipták
Costumes Katarína Hollá
Music and music selection Michal Novinski
Leontes / David Novotný
Polixenes, Second gentleman - Martin Myšička
Camillo, Hodnostář, Third gentleman - Jaroslav Plesl
Florizel, Jailer, Mariner, Servant - Vladimír Polívka
Cleomenes, Autolykus / Petr Vršek
Antigonus, Old shepherd Miroslav Krobot
Křupan, Dion / Pavel Šimčík
Perdita, Mamillius / Veronika Khek Kubařová
Hermiona, Mopsa / Lenka Krobotová
Paulina, Dorka / Simona Babčáková
Emilie, Time Zdeňka Žádníková
Premiere November 30th, 2015
// Author //
Ondrej Spišák (1964) – Director and actor. Studied DAMU, and then devoted himself to puppet theatre for children before moving to work for adults. At the start of the 1990s, together with set designer František Lipták, he founded the Teatro Tatro, which builds on the tradition of street theatres and circus (Bianca Braselli, the lady with two heads. Flying Frída, Minas Tirith – Minas Morgul, Derniére…). Spišák works regularly with the Radošínské naivní divadlo (Fame, Out of the Blue, Dad, General, Ten Commandments, A Play about Love) and other Slovak, Czech, Hungarian and above all Polish theatres. He won the prestigious Warsaw theatrical award Felix for his direction of Słobodzianek’s play Our Class. His home theatre then became the Karol Spišák Old Theatre in Nitra, where from 2007 to 2015 he worked as the managing director. Last year the Theatre festival showed his bombastically comedic version of The Master and Margarita, which was a perfect example of Spišák’s trademark style, above all his work with actors. This typically uses fiercely stylised acting, distanced, depersonalised character portrayal, sharp cuts and changes of mood and genre.
// Press //
Despite the apparent disunity, the Dejvické divadlo have pulled off a great play. Indeed, it may well be because the Winter’s Tale is sometimes chilling (not only because of David Novotný’s brilliant performance), sometimes entertaining (the moments with Miroslav Krobot and Pavel Šimčík) but never does it fall into a parody of itself. Spišák has managed to maintain the unusual format in an unbelievably compact whole, right up until the end.
Tomáš Šťástka, www.iDNES.cz
It can only be stated again that the acting style cultivated by the Dejvice company has a remarkable ability to imprint itself on the form and sound of almost every production. It manages to cement it and to hide any shortcomings or unfinished parts. That this occurs in auteur plays is somehow natural, but that it also works for Shakespeare is surprising. The actors’ creativity works as a style-creating component, working with irony and grotesqueness and also bringing playfulness. The whole style is very different from the cheerful whooping that so often appears on Czech stages in connection with Shakespeare’s comedies.
Director Ondrej Spišák has set the action of Shakespeare’s fairytale romance in an atmospere of peculiar lethargy and conciliatoriness: the individual images have an almost idyllic charm, which presents even the most drastic moments with hope and a subtle humour. The heroes are transposed to the present day, and they behave like members of modern ruling families. They have their amusements on the sea coast, they play tennis and golf, lie on sun loungers and in their emotions are direct, wonderstruck and even a little naive and removed from reality.
Jana Machalická, Lidové noviny
The Dejvice actors have simply made use of all the opportunities to show what they do best: to develop grotesque situations in a light and underplayed way. If we accept such an approach, there can be no doubt that the Dejvice Winter’s Tale is a top work of actor’s theatre and one of the most cheerful Shakespearean comedies for miles around.
Vladimír Mikulka, www.nadivadlo.blogspot.cz
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