Our Upper School Theatre Department students wowed audiences with their recent production of Shakespeare’s CYMBELINE.
CYMBELINE can best be summed up as a “Shakespearean Pot-Luck.” Truly, it hosts a myriad of plot elements from his most popular plays. So, this adventurous grab-bag celebrating the Bard’s greatest hits felt like the ideal time to walk down memory lane with this production.
Reaching into our own recent production history and pulling together the necessary elements – this approach to the story evolved. Beginning over a year ago, this concept of stealing into a school’s theatre storage room in the middle of the night to put on a show materialized and was the only seed this company needed to flower.
Taking a cue from the work of the Kneehigh Theatre’s Joan Littlewood inspired creations and Emma Rice’s joyful approach to theatre, we played and explored this story into a joyful life. Ironically, the First Folio labeled this a TRAGEDY!
Fortunately, over time, the several types of love and redemption the play celebrates have come to the forefront… and lo and behold, we have a fairy tale…and this tale, whether from Shakespeare or the Grimms, is quite familiar; for me, familiarity breeds not contempt, but a kind of humor. I’m not sure if its the vogue of modern cynicism, clarity of aging or a mixture of the two – but I find delicious whimsy and absurd humor in this story.
Freeing myself to laugh with the play, I found that nothing was lost of the horrifying, cruel moments this text explores; but like all great stories, they enhance each other. The next logical step was to turn it over to a group of artists that one completely trusts and deeply loves – with the simplest of stage direction for any creator: “Have Fun.”
Through six weeks of hard work and dedication, the students did an outstanding job on stage.
(Photo Credit: Kalli Miller ’19 & Claire Hylton ’19)
The Story of Shakespeare’s CYMBELINE
Cymbeline is the King of Britain. He is the father to Princess Imogen as well as two other children who were stolen in infancy.
Cymbeline and his second wife plan for Imogen to marry her son, Cloten. When Cymbeline discovers that Imogen has secretly married the non-royal Posthumus, the King banishes him to Rome.
In Rome, Posthumus meets Iachimo, who wagers with him that he can seduce the flawless Imogen.
Iachimo, arriving in Britain, realizes that Imogen is incorruptible – but, hiding in her bedroom, he obtains enough evidence through deceit to convince Posthumus otherwise.
In despair, Posthumus orders his servant Pisania to kill Imogen. Instead, Pisania urges Imogen to disguise herself as a boy and join the Roman army, newly arrived in Wales.
On her way to Milford Haven in Wales, Imogen meets Belarius and his children, Guideria and Arviragus – and feels an immediate bond. Belarius confesses that he is a banished nobleman who, in anger, stole Guideria and Arviragus from Cymbeline as babies.
Cloten, further angered by Imogen’s departure, pursues her to Wales dressed in Posthumus’ clothes, determined to take revenge. He meets and fights Guideria, who kills him. Imogen, feeling unwell, takes the Queen’s potion which makes her appear dead. When Guideria and Arviragus find her, they bury her with Cloten’s decapitated body.
Imogen awakes to find what she believes is the body of her husband. In despair, she joins the Roman forces, who are invading Britain because of Cymbeline’s failure to pay tribute to Rome. Posthumus, Belarius, Guideria, and Arviragus help defeat the Roman army in battle.
As Cymbeline and the Britons celebrate, the various families are reunited and many (MANY!) truths are revealed.