Extreme Shakespeare: Pericles Actors at Pennsylvania Shakespeare Festival Create Production Similar to the Way Shakespeare’s Company Would Have
Center Valley, PA—Exotic adventures, dark mysteries, and enchanting love carry a handsome warrior around the Mediterranean Sea in Shakespeare’s romantic Pericles, which previews July 22 and 23, opens July 24 and continues through August 2 at the Pennsylvania Shakespeare Festival on the Center Valley campus of DeSales University.
One of Shakespeare’s later plays, written in 1608, and popular in its day, Pericles is PSF’s fourth production in five years rehearsed the way Shakespeare’s company likely would have, with the actors taking control. The company of 18 actors arrives with their lines learned and open before an audience in a matter of days. There is no director—the position did not exist in Shakespeare’s time. And no designers, also a more recent invention. (PSF typically rehearses plays for 3.5 to 6 weeks.)
Actors costume themselves after a costume shop “raid,” and commandeer props and elements from other Festival productions to fulfill a production that is uniquely of their invention. (The production takes place on the set of Around the World in 80 Days, which ran June 17 – July 12 in the Festival’s intimate Schubert Theatre.)
“The goal is to bring the audience a bit closer to the ‘crackling now’ energy of an Elizabethan theatre and to showcase the extraordinary creative capacity of the actor,” says Producing Artistic Director Patrick Mulcahy. “We call it ‘extreme Shakespeare.’ Actors in Shakespeare’s time were believed to perform on short notice and present dozens of plays in the span of a few weeks.”
Pericles, played by Christopher Patrick Mullen, a long-time PSF actor, begins as a young man in love trying to solve a riddle to marry the daughter of a King—and ends as an old King so filled with grief from the loss of his beloved wife, Thaisa, played by Broadway veteran Gina Lamparella, and daughter, Marina, played by Emiley Kiser, he cannot speak. Before the audience gets to experience the happy restoration of his family, the hero faces epic trials and storms on a sea known for its chaos.
Prince Pericles is sailing around the Mediterranean to avoid assassination ordered by the King of Antioch, played by Richard Watson.
Watson is double cast as Cleon, who, along with Dionyza, Susan Riley Stevens, take care of Pericles’ daughter Marina after Pericles loses his wife at sea.
When Dionyza is threatened by Marina’s beauty, Marina ends up at a brothel owned by Pandar, Brad DePlanche, and his wife, a Bawd, Suzanne O’Donnell.
The cast also includes Broadway actor Spencer Plachy as Lysimachus, who falls in love with Marina, and Eric Hissom as Helicanus, who rules Tyre in Pericles’s absence.
The production is stage managed by Stacy Renee Norwood, a PSF veteran.
Production sponsors are Kathleen Kund Nolan and Timothy E. Nolan, and co-sponsor is Keenan-Nagle Advertising, Inc.
Performances are Tuesday at 7pm, Wednesday through Friday at 8pm, Saturday at 2pm and 8pm, and Sunday 2pm and 7:30pm. Single ticket prices start at $25. Prices vary based on performance day, time, seating location, and availability. To order tickets call 610.282.WILL  or online at www.pashakespeare.org.
Pennsylvania Shakespeare Festival continues with The Foreigner in repertory with Henry V (through August 2) on the Main Stage and Shakespeare for Kids (July 22 through August 1) and Rapunzel (through August 1). Also, Jeremiah James will perform a special concert, Choose Love, on Monday, July 27 at 7:30pm on the Main Stage. James recently played Javert in PSF’s record-breaking production of Les Misérables.
Amaranth Foundation is the 2015 season sponsor. Associate season sponsors are the Szarko Family, Harry C. Trexler Trust, Dr. James and Penny Pantano, and Linda Lapos and Paul Wirth.
Pennsylvania Shakespeare Festival, a professional company in residence at DeSales University, is the Official Shakespeare Festival of the Commonwealth and a professional, not-for-profit theatre company. An independent 501 c 3 organization, PSF receives support from DeSales University and relies on contributions from individuals, government agencies, corporations and foundations.
PSF is a constituent of the Theatre Communications Group (TCG), the national organization for the American theatre, and a member of the Greater Philadelphia Cultural Alliance, the Shakespeare Theatre Association, the Lehigh Valley Arts Council, and Discover Lehigh Valley.