Interlochen Arts Academy Theatre Division to present William Shakespeare's genre-defying play 'The Winter's Tale'
The production will feature a fairy tale-inspired setting, original music, costumes based on Ukrainian and Nordic folklore, and a free matinee designed for individuals with physical and sensory disabilities.
Please note: Performances of A Winter’s Tale have been rescheduled for Friday, April 22 at 7:30 p.m. and Saturday, April 23 at 7:30 p.m. The free accessibility performance will take place on Saturday, April 23 at 2 p.m.
This April, the Interlochen Arts Academy Theatre Division will present William Shakespeare's genre-defying play, The Winter's Tale.
One of Shakespeare's later works, The Winter's Tale combines comedy, drama, and romance. After accusing his wife of having an affair with his best friend, King Leontes suffers a series of heartbreaking losses. Sixteen years later, the appearance of a mysterious shepherd girl offers reconciliation and second chances.
"The Winter's Tale fills readers and spectators with wonder," said Interlochen Center for the Arts Director of Theatre Bill Church, who is directing the performance. "While there are many tragic things that happen, there's also resolution and hope. After two years of not performing or performing with masks due to the COVID-19 pandemic, it seemed right to return with a piece that celebrates the potential of hope after loss."
Church has set this production of The Winter's Tale in an undefined time and place, which he describes as "of a period, but not today."
"There's a wide mix of references in A Winter's Tale—the plot turns on an oracle from Apollo, but there are Christian ideals as well—which makes it hard to define a specific place or period," he said. "By opting for a general ‘fairy tale time,' we remove any commentary on religion or political ideals and are able to focus on the story."
The fairy tale theme is reflected in the performance's design elements. Costume designer Risa Alecci based many of the costumes on Nordic and Ukrainian folklore; Alecci's original artwork and source material will be displayed in the lobby of Harvey Theatre prior to the performance. Director of Residence Life Emily Duncan Wilson—a recent graduate of Yale University's master's program in sound design—created and recorded original music and sounds for the production.
For the Saturday matinee, Interlochen Arts Academy has partnered with several local nonprofits to offer a free accessibility performance for audiences who may have difficulty with loud sounds, light levels, and other sensitivity situations. Church says the idea was proposed by several students in the cast, who are working with Associate Director of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Esther Triggs to incorporate a variety of physical and sensory accommodations.
"As the mother of a son who is on the autism spectrum, creating performances which are accessible to all is always on my heart and mind," Triggs said. "I was thrilled when the DEI Student Voice Team expressed their desire to create an accessible performance of The Winter's Tale. We all have needs that should be met; finding opportunities to support those whose needs are often not met is imperative to becoming a truly inclusive community."
Resources available at the accessibility performance will include an ASL interpreter, sensory fidgets, relaxed lighting and sound effects, and step-free wheelchair and companion seat availability. A safe space with a livestream of the production will be available adjacent to the theatre. Prior to the performance, registered attendees will also receive a social story including key parts of the story, a guide to the characters' names and faces, and directions on where to enter the building.
The Interlochen Arts Academy Theatre Division provides accelerated pre-professional training in acting, musical theatre, and theatre design & production for aspiring performers and technicians in grades 9-12. Since its establishment in 1962, the program has produced dozens of successful actors, designers, and theatre professionals, including Oscar-winning actor Linda Hunt, Tony-nominated actor and director Michael Arden, Emmy Award-winning actor Tom Hulce, and Tony-nominated set designer Dane Laffrey, among many others.
In compliance with Interlochen's COVID-19 policy, all visitors must wear masks while inside campus buildings and for the duration of the performance. COVID-19 vaccines are strongly recommended for those eligible.