American Shakespeare Center cast for The Winter's Tale

The American Shakespeare Center (ASC) will present a free performance of The Winter’s Tale in Longwood University’s Jarman Auditorium on Tuesday, Sept. 18, at 7 p.m.

The performance by the internationally acclaimed theater company is being presented jointly by Longwood’s Department of English and Modern Languages and Hampden-Sydney College. It is open to the public.

Tickets are not required. Seating is on a first-come, first-served basis. Doors open at 6:30 p.m. with a pre-show musical performance before the curtain rises. The play, directed by Kevin Rich,  takes the audience on a roller coaster ride from romance to tragedy to comedy and finally to a place of transcendent beauty. After unleashing a wintry tempest onto his characters, Shakespeare ultimately conjures spring’s miraculous rebirth.

The Winter’s Tale was written late in Shakespeare’s career at a time when he was pushing beyond the traditional, classical definitions of drama as being either comedy or tragedy,said Dr. Shawn Smith, associate professor of English at Longwood and a Shakespeare scholar. “It is a play that reminds us that Shakespeare’s power lies not only in his language, but in his expansive vision of theatrical spectacle. It celebrates the potential for art to mitigate the harsh realities of an imperfect world.”

This is the sixth consecutive year that Longwood’s Department of English and Modern Languages and Hampden-Sydney College have sponsored a free ASC performance at Longwood. Hamlet, Romeo and Juliet, The Merry Wives of Windsor, Oscar Wilde’s The Importance of Being Earnest and The Taming of the Shrew also have been presented.

The Staunton-based company is internationally known for its unique performance style that blends Shakespeare’s stagecraft with modern sensibility. Shakespeare-era staging conditions include universal lighting, minimal sets, doubling, cross-gender casting and music.

The ASC’s mission is to recover the joys and accessibility of Shakespeare’s theater, language and humanity by exploring the English Renaissance stage and its practices through performance and education. The company’s plays have been called “shamelessly entertaining” and “bursting with energy.”

High-school teachers are encouraged to bring their students. For more information, call Dr. Robin Smith at 434-395-2529.

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