Graham Abbey Returns to Stratford Shakespeare Festival in CYMBELINE, May 10
In his fairy-tale romance Cymbeline, Shakespeare pits the strength of true love against false accusation and familial discord. Directed by the Festival's General Director, Antoni Cimolino, this hauntingly beautiful play begins previews at the Tom Patterson Theatre on May 10.
"Cymbeline, which Shakespeare wrote toward the end of his career, has a strikingly dream-like quality," says Cimolino. "It has an immense scope, it spans many periods of time, and its plot features strong elements of fantasy. It culminates in an extraordinary spirit of forgiveness, a sense that the world is a big place and is accepting of all of us."
Produced only three times before in Stratford's 60-season history, the play tells the story of Innogen, the remarkable daughter of King Cymbeline of Britain, who has married against her father's wishes. Banished by Cymbeline, Innogen's "poor but worthy" husband, Posthumus, finds refuge in Italy, where the villainous Iachimo tricks him into believing that his new wife has been unfaithful. Flying into a jealous rage, Posthumus orders his servant, Pisanio, to kill Innogen; instead, however, Pisanio helps Innogen undertake a harrowing journey to reunite with her husband and win back his love.
"In a way, I believe Shakespeare wrote himself into the part of Cymbeline, taking the major themes of his life – the loss of a son, the father-daughter relationship, the reunion of siblings – and puts it into a great stew, out of which comes a joyful and positive ending that perhaps he couldn't achieve in his own life, but that he could effect through his art," says Cimolino.
"I've become very fond of the late period in Shakespeare's career to which Cymbeline belongs," says Artistic Director Des McAnuff. "Together with The Tempest, The Winter's Tale and Pericles, it makes up a quartet of romance plays that explore themes of loss, separation and reconciliation. I have a particular passion for this final phase of Shakespeare's work, and am very pleased to be sharing it with Stratford audiences.
The cast includes Graham Abbey as Posthumus, Tom McCamus as Iachimo, Cara Ricketts as Innogen and Geraint Wyn Davies as King Cymbeline, with Nigel Bennett as Caius Lucius, Ian Lake as Arviragus, Yanna McIntosh as the Queen, Mike Shara as Cloten, E.B Smith as Guiderius, Brian Tree as Pisanio and John Vickery as Belarius.
The production's artistic team includes Set Designer Scott Penner, Costume Designer Carolyn M. Smith, Lighting Designer Robert Thomson, Composer Steven Page, Sound Designer Todd Charlton, Movement Sonia Norris, Fight Director Todd Campbell, and Dramaturge Jacob Gallagher-Ross.
This will be the fourth time Mr. Page has composed the music for one of Mr. Cimolino's productions. Their previous collaborations include As You Like It in 2005, Coriolanus in 2006 and Bartholomew Fair in 2009.
Production support for Cymbeline is generously provided by Barbara & John Schubert and Diana Tremain.
The Stratford Shakespeare Festival's 2012 season runs until October 28, featuring Much Ado About Nothing; 42nd Street, The Matchmaker; Henry V; You're A Good Man, Charlie Brown; The Pirates of Penzance; A Word or Two; Cymbeline; Wanderlust; Elektra; MacHomer; The Best Brothers; Hirsch and The War of 1812.
CAST (in alphabetical order):
Posthumus.............................................................................. Graham Abbey
Second Gentleman, Second Briton Captain, Jupiter................... Alden Adair
First Cloten Lord....................................................................... Simon Bracken