As I mentioned in my previous post, Lisa Wolpe is well-known for her interpretations of Shakespeare’s most famous male roles, including Hamlet, Iago, and Richard III. She is directing a production of “A Winter’s Tale” at the PAL Theatre, July 26-August 9 (preview July 25). It will be fascinating to see what she does with it.
In any production, the match between the character and the exact characteristics of the actor is always imperfect. They are two separate people. Anyone who has attended a school production of a play, whether it be Frankenstein, Our Town, or Fiddler on the Roof (all of which I have seen done), knows that the actors will inevitably differ in both age and ethnicity from their characters. Shakespeare wrote his plays knowing that female characters would be played by men. (That said, it can still be annoying to see a 40-year-old actor play the mother to a 35-year-old man in a Hollywood film, but the fact that this is so commonplace should clearly indicate that verisimilitude in casting is not required.)
Here is Wolpe as Iago:
The Winter’s Tale, opening July 26 and presented by Classic Chic Productions (CCP), promises fire and ice aplenty, at the direction of master interpreter of the Bard, Lisa Wolpe. The epic and romantic fairy tale features a large all-female ensemble on this inaugural production for Classic Chic, a newly formed Vancouver women’s theatre collective.
“The Winter’s Tale offers beautifully defined, strong, classic roles for women in Hermione, Paulina, and Perdita,” says Wolpe, an acclaimed actor and Artistic Director of the Los Angeles Women’s Shakespeare Company (LAWSC). “This play features some of the greatest male characters ever written – the tyrant King Leontes, the seductive King Polixenes, the tortured Antigonus, the delightful villain with a deft sleight of hand and a song-and-dance, Autolycus. Classic Chic is opening up fascinating opportunities for women to play everything from Clowns to Kings.”
A punch in the gut, the play delivers the tales of the suffering and rebirth of its women, but ultimately this is a sacred story of a triumphant emergence from darkness into light. Bursting with music, dancing, swordplay, and circus skills, The Winter’s Tale spins an eloquent text ranging in scope from powerful tragedy to vaudevillian light comedy.
PAL Studio Theatre
581 Cardero Street