September 7, 2015
By Rachel Rogol
In the earliest years of the 17th century, Shakespeare wrote a little-known play called Pericles, Prince of Tyre. This Wednesday through Saturday, Sept. 9–12, Amherst’s Holden Experimental Theater transforms into Pericles’ world, complete with shipwrecks, assassins, pirates, romance and the heartbreaking story of a family torn apart.
Pericles, Prince of Tyre kicks off Amherst’s Theater and Dance 2015–16 season. Even if you’ve seen a production of Pericles before, chances are you haven’t seen it like this.
Amherst’s production is “a bold, imaginative, playful interpretation of a Shakespearean adventure story,” says director Ron Bashford, a professional director of Shakespeare and a faculty member at Amherst. The production first ran in 2014 at North Carolina Stage Company, where Bashford met and collaborated with five professional actors to create an innovative version of Shakespeare’s epic tale they’re now bringing to Amherst.
Because Pericles was originally written with nearly 30 speaking characters, Bashford says paring it down to five actors was a challenge that he and the cast found an innovative way to solve. “Every character has one item that identifies them,” he says. “People don’t go offstage to change costume.” Instead the props are carefully hidden onstage. But you’ll have to see the show yourself to find out how they pull this off.
Though most of Amherst’s Theater and Dance performances directly involve students, this first production of the season is for students—along with faculty, staff and members of the larger Amherst community—to sit back, relax and enjoy. “It is an especially fun, understandable and touching rendition of a rarely-performed play,” Bashford says. “We also hope that new students in particular will see the show and come to know, by example, that there are many options for them to attend weekend arts activities on campus throughout the year.”
In addition to these performances, the Pericles cast—which includes Willie Repoley, Charlie Flynn-McIver, Laura Fortuna, Rebecca Morris and Catori Swann—met with new students as part of Amherst’s Creative Arts and Performance orientation program, and will attend upcoming classes as guest lecturers. “By learning about how professional actors work to bring a play like Pericles to life,” says Bashford, “students will be able deepen their comprehension when reading Shakespeare, or other playwrights, in the future.”
See Pericles, Prince of Tyre in the Holden Experimental Theater on Wednesday, Sept. 9, through Saturday, Sept. 12, at 8 p.m., with an additional matinee performance on Saturday at 2 p.m.
Tickets are free, but reservations are strongly recommended. Call the box office to reserve yours today: 413-542-2277.