This is part of an ongoing series of regional Shakespeare coverage. This is Hannah Brewer here this week with the latest in Shakespeare news from The Isle Of Wight.
Venue choice is an integral part of the production process that should aim to enhance an audience’s theatrical experience. Not only is it the initial visual impression of a production, but it also establishes the stylistic choice which the director has elected to use.
A poorly chosen location, or a venue utilised poorly can have drastic consequences for a performances overall reception.
The Isle of Wight Shakespeare Company’s most recent production, The Winter’s Tale was indeed enhanced by the choice of location.
The Winter’s Tale takes the audience through a powerful psychological journey of redemption, regeneration and forgiveness. Thematically driven by an array of religious undercurrents, the play is steeped in sacred ideology.
A troubled King treads the path of tyranny and brings about the destruction of his own kingdom. Through a series of irrational decisions, King Leontes of Sicilia pushes away all those loyal to him and is to blame for the loss of his heir and Queen.
Living for sixteen years in the solace of regret, Leontes earns his right to a healthy kingdom and the regeneration of his Royal line. With his lost heir miraculously returned and his wife brought back from her ‘alluded to’ death, Leontes is restored.
The IW Shakespeare Company’s choice of venue for this adaption was a prestigious Victorian built church nestled in the parklands of Cowes, Isle Of Wight. The building itself commands a huge religious presence within its town, visible at long distances across the community.
On entering the church, audiences were immediately captivated by its splendour and the space spoke volumes for the production. The constructed stage was bare and acted as a practical tool that allowed the players to inaugurate themselves with their surroundings.
The action was not limited to the stage and the church was much more than just a pretty backdrop, it became the palace of Sicillia and the shores of its neighbouring kingdom, Bohemia.
The actors used the entirety of the church, creating an immersive environment which enabled audience members and actors alike to invest themselves within the production.
At the start of any production process big questions have to be asked, one of which should always be the question of location. What can it add and what can it enhance?
Representing both a symbolic addition to the play and a physical atmospheric overlay, the use of the church added texture and substance to the performance and at all times echoed the religious thematic tones embedded within the play.
More information for the Isle Of Wight Shakespeare company can be found here:
More information for St Mary’s Church can be found here: