The Shawnigan Players are offering scenes from ‘The Winter’s Tale’ this August for a limited audience. (submitted)

Scenes from ‘The Winter’s Tale’ coming to live audiences in Cowichan Station

The Players had been preparing two new shows for the annual summer theatre festival

By Laura Faulkner

Looking for outdoor entertainment? Ready for some innovative, socially-distanced live theatre? The Shawnigan Players are excited to bring you a special sneak preview of the 2021 Cowichan Valley Shakespeare Festival.

This August, come and enjoy selected scenes from The Winter’s Tale at beautiful Gem o’ the Isle Farm in Cowichan Station.

Before the arrival on scene of the Great Plague of 2020, the Players had been preparing two new shows for the annual summer theatre festival: Little Women and Shakespeare’s The Winter’s Tale. Our ambitions of merry ensemble scenes and standing-room-only audiences quashed, we took to Zoom to read our scripts together, connect with each other, and brainstorm strategies to keep our shows fresh and alive. Now, with the blessing of the Island Health Authority, we are proud to present a unique and memorable community experience — a limited “pandemic edition” performance.

Director Alex Gallacher has chosen several key scenes from The Winter’s Tale to give you a generous taste of this extraordinary tale of love and loss, redemption and grace. When King Leontes of Sicily suspects his wife Hermione of infidelity, he sets in motion a disastrous chain of events with devastating consequences. Can time really heal all wounds, or will it take a miracle? Impassioned royalty, fiery noblewomen, clownish countryfolk, a sly pickpocket, and a secret princess are among the characters you’ll meet in this entrancing fable, which also features perhaps the most famous stage direction in English drama: “Exit, pursued by a bear.”

This special preview performance will feature special COVID-safe staging, with modified blocking and reduced numbers of actors. Our audiences will be limited to 50 patrons in distanced “bubbles” of up to six people. Seating is on the grass, so please bring your own chair or a blanket to sit on. Picnic lunches are welcome.

The performance will be approximately an hour long and will take place Aug. 8 and 9 at 1 p.m. and again at 4 p.m. Admission is by donation. All audience attendance must be reserved in advance. To reserve your spot, email shawniganplayers@gmail.com.

We look forward to presenting Little Women in the winter of 2020 and the full-length version of The Winter’s Tale in summer 2021.

Gem o’ the Isle Farm is located at 2465 Koksilah Rd. in Cowichan Station.

Laura Faulkner is the vice president of the Shawnigan Players.

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