Jul 15, 2014
10:38 AM
Arts & Entertainment

Shakespeare’s ‘Cymbeline’, in Wild West Setting, Coming in Stratford

Shakespeare’s ‘Cymbeline’, in Wild West Setting, Coming in Stratford

Hudson Shakespeare Company

Actors Noelle Fair, Jeff DeGlow and Laura Hill in "Cymbeline."

Shakespeare’s play Cymbeline is hard to define, but that is part of its charm.

Scholars divide the Bard’s plays into four distinct categories—history, tragedy, comedy and romance. However, this play, which tells the story of a woman’s desire to marry a low-born man as opposed to her wealthy stepbrother, and all the drama and misfortune that results, could arguably fit into all four categories.

There is romance between the two lovers, tragedy when they aren’t permitted to be together, comedy at all the misfortune and history in that it involves the King of Great Britain, Cymbeline, and his family.

The story is layered and complex, involving over a dozen characters.

Managing Director Jon Ciccarelli of the Hudson Shakespeare Company says this play borrows from many fairy tales including Cinderella, with the wicked stepmother character, Snow White, with the princess lost in the woods and the Prince and the Pauper, in the character of Posthumous. 

There’s a little something for everyone in this play, which is why the Hudson Shakespeare Company has included Cymbeline in its 23rd Season of Traveling Theater.

(Actors Philip Corso and Noelle Fair in Cymbeline, right.)

Since 1992 the Hudson Shakespeare Company has traveled around the New York, New Jersey and metro Connecticut region performing a wide range of plays (from classic Shakespeare to modern works) in both indoor and outdoor venues.

They began traveling with their version of Cymbeline, which is set in the Wild West, on July 10 and it will run through July 28.

On Saturday, July 26, the company will make an important stop at the Stratford Public Library, and will perform Cymbeline in the library’s outdoor amphitheater (inside if the weather is bad) starting at 2 p.m.

Stratford, Conn., seems like a natural choice, as Shakespeare was born is Stratford-upon-Avon, the one located across the pond.

"When audiences come to see Cymbeline, they will be presented with a charming, easy to follow production of one of Shakespeare's later romances, which lends itself easily to the Wild West setting and post-Civil War drama prevalent across America at that time," says director Rachel Alt. "We've thoroughly researched the era and have included live and recorded music, costumes and references common to the time and place in which our version takes place." 

(Actors James Masciovecchio, Tom Cox, Philip Corso and Mike Durell, above.)

"Audiences will leave with an appreciation of one of Shakespeare's rarely produced plays. complete with archetypal bad and good guys, a maiden lost in the woods and the gentle giant," she adds. 

If that July 26 date doesn’t work for you but you’re still interested in taking in some Shakespearean theater this summer, the company will be back around at the end of August with their final play in the series, Pericles.

The play tells the story of Pericles, his wife, Thaisa, and their daughter Mariana, who are all separated through tragedy but reunite after years spent apart.

"Pericles is an adventure road trip through the Mediterrenean that features a king looking for love in all the wrong places and then is on the run from people who want to kill him," says Ciccarelli. "His family is torn apart and it is the journey to reunite with them."  

The Hudson Shakespeare Company will perform Pericles at the Stratford Public Library on Aug. 23 at 2 p.m.

"What's so lovely about the traveling Shakespeare shows is that they are always fresh," says Alt. "The actors may or may not have been to the venue and have to figure out ... how to maneuver their entrances and exits, fights and conversations with the audience. It lends the production an air of reality and excitement felt by the cast and audience." 

For more information on The Hudson Shakespeare Company, visit the website at hudsonshakespeare.homestead.com

Contact me by email at khartman@connecticutmag.com and follow me on Twitter, and connect with Connecticut Magazine on Twitter, on Facebook and on Google +

Shakespeare’s ‘Cymbeline’, in Wild West Setting, Coming in Stratford

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