I figure that if I just keep typing, something profound will eventually come out of all this -

Monday, September 26, 2011

Enter Bear Stage Left

    As promised, a few significant things I noticed about the staging and direction of The 
Winter’s Tale.For the sake of brevity, I’ll be focusing on what I thought was more 
significant or different from what I imagined.
Act I Scene 2, Palace of Leontes
 [Enter Leontes, Polixenes, Herminoe, Mamillius, Camillo, and Attendants]
    What I found most interesting about the staging of this direction, was Mamillius’s 
entrance. He ran onto stage, put his toy down, and then ran off again. This put a strong 
emphasis on his presence. I hadn’t ever really considered Mamillius to be that significant 
of a character, but playing up his appearance on stage helped the audience connect more
strongly with this precocious child, making his death that much more tragic. It felt like a
real loss when Mamillius died, because his entrances were so strong.
 [Hermione giving her hand to Polixenes]
    There was no hesitation in this staging. Hermione and Polixenes were flirting. Yes,
Leontes was removed and withdrawn, but those two characters were content to let him 
stay by himself. This staging made Leontes suspicions less outrageous.

 Act II, Scene 3 A room in Leonte’s palace
[Enter LEONTES, ANTIGONUS, Lords, and Servants]
      Throughout this entire scene, Leontes is reclining on his chair, with his clothes mussed, 
and a strong drink in his hand. The reason I felt this was significant is because it plays up 
Leontes regret. It portrayed a man who truly regretted what he felt he had to do. Leontes
is a man in love, truly distraught by his wife’s apparent infidelity. This allows the audience to 
accept the sudden swings in emotion later when Leontes learns of his wife’s fidelity. We see 
him truly hurting in this scene because of how the director portrayed it. In my mind, I saw
Leontes pacing the room, infuriated with his wife, not quietly mourning, trying to lose himself
in drink.
Act V, Scene 3 A chapel in Paulina’s house
[HERMIONE comes down]
    Finally, we get to the moment we’ve all been waiting for, the statue coming to life. First, 
the staging of the statue I thought was important. Hermione is standing next to a pedestal, her
right arm on the pedestal, making a half-fist, with her forehead against her knuckles. He left 
arm was across her body resting on the pedestal as well. When she initially moves, her left arm 
drops down, Leontes takes that hand, her right palm opens and she buries her face in it, and
then she embraces Leontes. Following that she silently makes way to her daughter to put her
hands upon her.
    I found this particularly interesting, because the scene felt much more supernatural than I 
expected. It truly seemed that a statue was coming to life with one member at a time gaining 
mobility. Before, I expected her to leap off a pedestal and immediately embrace her husband.
Instead, her own overwhelming emotion is show by her burying her face in her hand before 
hugging Leontes. Also, the slow somewhat stilted movements did make it seem as though she 
wasn’t used to moving, that she truly was a statue come to life. This interpretation increased 
both the reverence and the mysticism.
    Anyway, there’s some staging for your thoughts.

1 comment:

  1. I have to admit that at first I didn't even realize who the kid running around the stage was. It was great stage direction to make him so present in the beginning because, like you said, it makes you feel the significance of his death more. Also with the second part I didn't think of it that way at the time but looking back at how Leontes was so stationary in comparison to the rest of his appearances it does make his later reaction more believable. As for the third part, that was how I expected it and I was glad to see that it was a gradual "coming to life" and not a big "ta-da!" moment. It made it more intense.