What: "The Winter's Tale."
When: 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and April 13; 2 and 7:30 p.m. April 14.
Where: University of Tennessee at Chattanooga Fine Arts Center, Dorothy Hackett Ward Theatre, Vine and Palmetto streets.
Admission: $12 adults, $10 students/senior citizens.
Thanks to the staff assistance of a Shakespearean actress, the actors in the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga Theater Department aren't just ticking one of The Bard's plays off their bucket list when they stage "The Winter's Tale" at the Dorothy Hackett Ward Theatre beginning Tuesday.
"Most student actors don't know how to use the [Shakespearean] language," said director Steve Ray, "but our students know the language and know how to use it."
The reason, he said, is the presence of actress and Chattanooga native Kate Forbes Dallimore, a UTC adjunct faculty member who edited "The Winter's Tale" text, acted as a text consultant on the script and was the show's acting coach.
"We've taken what is sometimes incomprehensible to high art," Ray said, "and she is primarily responsible. She's a real godsend [based on] how much she's put in."
Ray said he chose "The Winter's Tale," a late-career Shakespearean work that has shown a resurgence in popularity in recent years, because of its elements of fantasy and believability.
"Maybe, it's me stretching [a point]," he said, "but with the elements of comedy and tragedy, with all the life-changing events," he said, "it sort of reminds me of a Harry Potter [adventure]."
Ray said he'd never directed "The Winter's Tale" but "fell in love with it."
"It's a yarn, or a delightful tale, told to pass the time," he said. "It has all these wonderful elements. It's more fantastical than 'A Midsummer Night's Dream.' It has all these huge events thrown together to be a wonderful story."
The tale, set in the fantastic worlds of Sicilia and Bohemia, focuses on a wronged queen, a jealous king and their virtuous daughter finding love and redemption. However, along the way, there's also a prince that dies, a clown, a bear chase and a shipwreck.
With its disparate elements, it was originally classified as a comedy, but, according to Ray, "it doesn't fit neatly into comedies." It's also been categorized as a romance, a problem play and a psychological drama.
Its resurgence in popularity, he said, may have come because, "in the post-modern world, we jump around [between elements like comedy and tragedy] with lightning speed. It's more accessible today. We're not thrown by the fact."
Above all, Ray said, "it's a great story with a great theme and characters. It's a fun, fun, fun story."
In addition, he said, "you always do Shakespeare for the language," and "The Winter's Tale," written later in his career, "is very sophisticated in language" and "in manipulating the verse. It's really fun to see actors get hold of what Shakespeare's language can do."