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Watch: A background to Shakespeare’s The Winter's Tale

Christopher Wheeldon and theatre director Lucy Bailey shed light on the play’s themes and plot.

By Chris Shipman (Head of Brand Engagement and Social Media)

28 February 2014 at 1.15pm | 2 Comments

The Winter's Tale might not be as familiar to non-Shakespeare buffs as Romeo and JulietHamlet or Macbeth, but its strong narrative has drawn choreographer Christopher Wheeldon to adapt it into a ballet.

In this latest film, we look at the themes and plot of the original play with Christopher and theatre director Lucy Bailey, who directed an RSC production of The Winter’s Tale in 2013.

'It's a story of jealousy, comedy, great tragedy and redemption,' says Christopher.

'It's about sex, friendship, and a fall from grace - the darkness within that destroys the potential for a good life,' says Lucy. 'It's about class and the haves and the have-nots...It defies being put into one genre - it's a romance, a tragedy, a comedy, it's intensely poetic and spiritually enlightening. For me, that's why it's called a problem play but for me, it's not - it's one of Shakespeare's best.'

The story of The Winter's Tale follows the destruction of a marriage through consuming jealousy, the abandonment of a child and a seemingly hopeless love. Yet the ending is one of forgiveness and reconciliation.

Watch Christopher Wheeldon speak about the choreographic process of adapting Shakespeare's The Winter's Tale.

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The Winter’s Tale runs from 10 April-8 May 2014. Tickets are still available. The production will be relayed live to cinemas around the world on 28 April. Find your nearest cinema and sign up for our cinema newsletter.

The ballet is staged with generous philanthropic support from The Monument Trust. Generous support is also offered by Mrs Susan A Olde OBE, the Metherell Family, Lady Ashcroft, Celia Blakey, Sarah and Lloyd Dorfman, Sir Simon and Lady Robertson, The Taylor Family Foundation, Mr and Mrs Edward Atkin CBE, Richard and Delia Baker, Kenneth and Susan Green, David Hancock, Randa Khoury, Lindsay and Sarah Tomlinson, Doug and Ceri King, Sir Roger and Lady Carr, The Winter’s Tale Production Syndicate and an anonymous donor.

This article has 2 comments

  1. Barbara Loon responded on 25 March 2014 at 5:35pm Reply

    The subtitles/captions really don't reflect what is being said. eg near the beginning, the word 'jealousy' is captioned 'Janis Ian'; later on 'Hermione' is rendered 'how my knee'. My husband is hearing impaired, and this is so difficult for him. It makes him feel dismissed. Can this be improved please?

    • Chris Shipman (Head of Brand Engagement and Social Media) responded on 26 March 2014 at 1:34pm

      Hi Barbara,

      currently, the ROH does not provide its own captions for online content; all captions are, by default, provided by YouTube. We were unaware that there was an issue with the YouTube captioning (and thank you for highlighting the issue) and shall now look at how we might best work with YouTube in providing more accurate captioning for online content. It is important to us that we provide an optimum service for all ROH customers and shall be sure to pass your comments to YouTube, doing all that we can to help them improve their own captioning service for your requirements.


      ROH Content Producer

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