The Winter’s Tale with a summer twist

Emerald Pig set for 10th season of Shakespeare in the park in Pitt Meadows and Maple Ridge

Grant Vlahovic (left) joins Leanne Koehn

It may be one of the hottest summers on record, but Emerald Pig has The Winter’s Tale on its mind.

This is Emerald Pig’s 10th season performing in Pitt Meadows and Maple Ridge, and this year they chose one of Shakespeare’s lesser known but wildly entertaining pieces ever written.

“It’s a more fantasy-like play,” said director Cathie Young. “It works kind of like a fairy tale.”

The Winter’s Tale was one of the last plays the Bard ever wrote, dating back to 1610. It was not published until the First Folio of 1623.

The play veers between romance and comedy and peers into the dark world of the jealous King Leontes, who condemns his innocent wife, Queen Hermione, to death and abandons his newborn daughter Perita in the wilderness.

But all is not lost. The king finds redemption with the help of the kindly characters named Time, an old shepherd, a young clown a singing rogue, as well as a blessed miracle.

The play runs from July 16 to 18 at Spirit Square, Pitt Meadows and from July 23 to 25 at Memorial Peace Park. All shows begin with entertainment at 7 p.m. before the main performance 8 p.m.

For director Young, the challenge of A Winter’s Tale lies in conveying the message of redemption on the part of the main character.

“Really, it’s about how do we get back from the really bad things we’ve done,” said Young. “And more importantly, how do we really forgive ourselves.”

Young said this is always a play she had wanted to direct and is excited for the opportunity to finally bring the characters to life. That she gets to direct the play outdoors in such a community-friendly venue is an added bonus.

“The thing about community theatre is that it’s open to everyone. You have people who have never done Shakespeare, kids who are new to it and are so excited, and people who have been with Emerald Pig for years,” said Young. “But it’s fun in that fact that everyone pulls together.”

She said an example of that is the casting of deaf actor Jonathan Scott, playing the character off Time.

“There’s a beautiful scene where Time is using sign language to deliver his lines while it’s being dubbed over the speakers. It’s wonderful.”

She said the continued success of Emerald Pig comes from its volunteers behind the scenes. With a cast close to 20 for this year’s production, the play relies on the countless people donating their time to building sets and designing costumes. Young said the dedication of everyone involved has an infectious spirit.

“It’s really inclusive of the whole community, from kids to seniors and everyone in between. We do it because we love it. We were out here Sunday all day and it was 38 degrees.”

Young said patrons are encouraged to bring their own lawn chair or blankets. The Friends in Need Food Bank will be taking donations.

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