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Director Scott Wentworth in conversation with Interim Director of Education Pat Quigley and Teaching Artist Luisa Appolloni

Q: What attracted you to directing The Adventures of Pericles?

Scott Wentworth: I’ve always been attracted to the late plays. They’re not performed as often as the major comedies and tragedies. Even in the nineteenth century, when Shakespeare’s works were at the height of their popularity, the romances were not often performed. This is partly due to the male oriented actor-manager drive of the time, as the roles didn’t seem as attractive as the Lears, Macbeths and Hamlets. The romances didn’t dominate, I suspect, because the women in them tended to have a lot more to do with working out the resolutions. 

The late plays deal with reconciliation, redemption and forgiveness, which is why they tend to speak to the heart so directly. That is particularly true in Pericles. The focus of the story doesn’t exclusively happen within the narrative. The story also takes place on a level of transcendence, on a mythological or psychological level.

The Stratford Festival has just done Lear and experienced the real zenith of that tragic vision. I’m interested in what happens next: we just destroyed the world, how can we rebuild it? Shakespeare didn’t stop writing after the tragedies. He moved on to the romances.

There is an inherent quest in Pericles that questions some of the basic tenets of the world Shakespeare found himself in. In 1608, when writing Pericles, he’s nearing the end of a successful career and he’s about to be a grandfather. In Pericles we see him begin to question the notion of patriarchy and what men have done. With the exception of The Tempest, the gods in the early plays tend to be a very masculine force in Shakespeare’s works, but now you have the goddess Diana as an important influence in Pericles.

Q. How are you going to bring that sense of the goddess into your production?

SW: The play ends at her temple, and she actually appears as a character, and she’s constantly invoked by all of the major characters. In Greek mythology she’s the goddess of chastity, the hunt and childbirth; she’s associated with the moon and transformation; and she’s the force that takes someone from one point and brings them to the next threshold of understanding. The goddess is the central character in a play that questions patriarchy and the role and power of women.

Q. Is female power always a power for good?

SW: No. It’s also important to look at both the dark and good sides of this power. For instance, one of the main forces of destruction in Pericles is Dionyza, who, jealous of Pericles’ daughter, Marina, plots her death – but Marina is captured by pirates and sold to a brothel. We need to treat this narrative with respect and not romanticize the circumstances. We live in a world where child abuse, the sex trade and human trafficking still happen. The more realistically we look at the places Pericles visits, the more we come to understand ourselves and our own time. 

Q. What are you going to do with the Chorus?

SW: The original intention of having Gower [the Chorus] as poet/storyteller in the play was to draw the audience in closer to the story. However, the opposite happens today. To experience Gower from a different perspective, I decided that the narrative voice would be a woman and to localize it as the goddess Diana. This allows me to present the play as a ritual – a ceremony enacted by the maiden priests at Diana’s temple. 

I want to emphasize the strong intersection between the narrative and the mythological. The audience is moved by the stories in Pericles, as it has the kind of power that draws from our collective consciousness. The play conjures up today’s darker themes, but it also offers tremendous hope through the power of love and reconciliation.

Production support for The Adventures of Pericles is generously provided by M. Vaile Fainer.

Evan Buliung - From Hero to Villain

“I don’t look at differences between heroes and villains; there’s too much grey area between them. I enjoy the comic side of villainy and the uncertain side of heroism. True heroic characters find themselves in situations that they most likely don’t want to be found in; it’s only the Circumstance and ultimately the outcome that makes them a hero. Villains are a treat, usually Totally self-serving and comical in their exploits; they use charm as a finely honed weapon on unsuspecting villagers (or whoever happens to be around). We all have these complexities within us; thankfully, most of us choose to take the high road. I like to keep my choices open through rehearsal to find the wide range of complexities of the character so that there is no token ‘hero’ and no token ‘villain.’ ”

2015 | Jigger Craigin in Carousel and Pericles in The Adventures of Pericles. Highlights | Black Stache in Peter and the Starcatcher (Western Canada Theatre), Edgar in King Lear (Stratford Festival).