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The Winter's Tale

Plot Summary

Polixenes, King of Bohemia, has been on a nine-month visit to the court of his childhood friend Leontes, King of Sicilia, and his wife, Queen Hermione. Groundlessly, Leontes becomes convinced that his heavily pregnant wife has been having an affair with Polixenes. He tries to persuade his most trusted courtier, Camillo, to poison Polixenes. Convinced of the queen's innocence, Camillo warns Polixenes and they depart for Bohemia together. Another courtier, Antigonus, is ordered to leave Hermione's newly born daughter on a desert shore. Leontes tries Hermione for treason; when he denies the truth of the god Apollo's oracular declaration of her innocence, his son Mamillius dies. He is then told that the queen has also died. Antigonus leaves the baby girl on the coast of Bohemia, where he is torn to pieces by a bear. An old shepherd and his clownish son find the baby, bring her up as a member of their family and name her Perdita. Sixteen years later, she is being courted by Polixenes' son, Prince Florizel, who has disguised himself as a shepherd, Doricles. The roguish pedlar Autolycus tricks the shepherds out of money. Polixenes and Camillo come in disguise to the countryside; when the king denounces his son for courting a low-born shepherdess, Florizel and Perdita flee to Sicilia, with the assistance of Camillo. The shepherd and clown follow, bringing tokens that reveal Perdita's true identity. That which was lost having been found, Paulina, the lady most loyal to Hermione, reveals a statue of the dead queen and tells the assembled company to prepare themselves for a great wonder.

RSC Staging History 1960-2007

1960 RST: Peter Wood
Jaques Noel (design); Maurice Daniels (lighting)


Eric Porter (Leontes), Elizabeth Sellars (Hermione), Patrick Allen (Polixenes), Paul Hardwick (Camillo), Peggy Ashcroft (Paulina), Jack MacGowran (Autolycus), Susan Maryott (Perdita), Dinsdale Landen (Florizel), James Bree (Old Shepherd), Ian Holm (Young Shepherd), Tony Church (Antigonus), Ian Richardson (Gentleman), Clive Swift (Gaoler), Peter Jeffrey (Steward), Dennis Waterman (Mamillius), Philip Voss (Lord)

1969 RST/1970 Japanese and Australian Tour/1970 Aldwych: Trevor Nunn
Christopher Morley (design); John Bradley (lighting); Guy Woolfenden (music)


Barrie Ingham (Leontes), Judi Dench (Hermione), Richard Pasco (Polixenes), Nicholas Selby (Camillo), Brenda Bruce (Paulina), Derek Smith (Autolycus), Judi Dench (Perdita), David Bailie (Florizel), Sydney Bromley (Old Shepherd), Geoffrey Hutchings (Young Shepherd), Morgan Sheppard (Antigonus), Susan Sheers (Mopsa), Lisa Harrow (Dorcas), Denis Holmes (Gaoler), Anthony Pedley (Cleomenes), Philip Taylor (Dion), Janet Henfrey (Emilia), Denis Holmes (First Lord/Shepherd), Roger Rees (Lord), Janet Whiteside (Lady)

1976 RST/1977 Aldwych: John Barton, Trevor Nunn
Di Seymour (design); Clive Morris (lighting); Guy Woolfenden (music)


Ian McKellen (Leontes), Marilyn Taylerson (Hermione), John Woodvine (Polixenes), Barbara Leigh-Hunt (Paulina), Michael Williams (Autolycus), Cherie Lunghi (Perdita), Nickolas Grace (Florizel), David Waller (Old Shepherd), Roger Rees (Young Shepherd), Griffith Jones (Antigonus), David Lyon (Archidamus), Clyde Pollitt (Cleomenes), David Howey (Dion), Lea Dregorn (Emilia)

1981 RST/1982 Barbican: Ronald Eyre
Chris Dyer (design); Chris Ellis (lighting); Stephen Oliver (music)


Patrick Stewart (Leontes), Gemma Jones (Hermione), Ray Jewers (Polixenes), Bernard Lloyd (Camillo), Sheila Hancock (Paulina), Geoffrey Hutchings (Autolycus), Leonie Mellinger (Perdita), Peter Chelsom (Florizel), John Rogan (Old Shepherd), Gerard Murphy/Anthony O'Donnell (Young Shepherd), Robert Eddison (Antigonus), Diana Hardcastle (Mopsa), Clare Travers-Deacon (Dorcas), Nigel Le Vaillant (Gaoler), Brian Poyser (Archidamus), Hugh Quarshie (Cleomenes), Peter Land (Dion), Diana Berriman (Emilia), Brian Poyser (Mariner), Graham Turner (Shepherd), Juliette Mole (Sheperdess), Christopher Davies/Timothy Sullivan (Mamillius)

1984-85 Small-scale Tour/1985 Polish Tour: Adrian Noble
Bob Crowley (set), David Short (costumes); Michael Calf (lighting); Guy Woolfenden (music)


Alun Armstrong (Leontes), Lynn Farleigh (Hermione), Julian Curry (Polixenes), David Bradley (Camillo), Janet Dale (Paulina), Ron Cook (Autolycus), Jenifer Landor (Perdita), John Dougall (Florizel), Trevor Martin (Old Shepherd), Ian Talbot (Young Shepherd), Paul Webster (Antigonus), Julia Dearden (Mopsa), Caroline Milmoe (Dorcas), Albie Woodington (Paulina's Steward)

1986 RST/1987 Barbican: Terry Hands
Gerard Howland (design); Terry Hands, Clive Morris (lighting)


Jeremy Irons/Paul Shelley (Leontes), Penny Downie (Hermione/Perdita), Paul Greenwood (Polixenes), Richard Easton (Camillo), Gillian Barge (Paulina), Joe Melia (Autolycus), Nathaniel Parker (Florizel), Bernard Horsfall (Old Shepherd), Simon Russell Beale (Young Shepherd), Raymond Bowers (Antigonus), Cornelia Hayes (Mopsa), Caroline Johnson/Anna Patrick (Dorcas), Mark Lindley (Gaoler), Stanley Dawson (Archidamus/Cleomenes), Sean O'Callaghan (Dion), Eileen Page (Emilia), Roger Watkins (Mariner), Gary Love, Howard Ward (Shepherds), Pia Henderson (Shepherdess), Martin Hicks/Richard Parry (Mamillius)

1992 RST/1993 Barbican/1993 European Tour (Theatre Royal, Plymouth; Geneva; Bobigny, Paris; Gaiety, Dublin; Theatre Royal, Bath; Budapest)/1994 International Tour (Wellington, New Zealand; Tokyo; BAM, New York; Kennedy Center, Washington): Adrian Noble
Anthony Ward (design); Chris Parry (lighting); Shaun Davey (music); Sue Lefton (movement)


John Nettles (Leontes), Samantha Bond (Hermione), Paul Jesson/Julian Curry (Polixenes), Benjamin Whitrow (Camillo), Gemma Jones (Paulina), Richard McCabe (Autolycus), Phyllida Hancock (Perdita), Alan Cox (Florizel), Jeffery Dench (Old Shepherd), Graham Turner (Young Shepherd), Andrew Jarvis (Antigonus), Stephanie Jacob (Mopsa), Jenna Russell (Dorcas), Roger Frost (Gaoler), John Bott (Archidamus), Pearce Quigley (Cleomenes), James Walker (Dion), Angela Vale (Emilia), Catherine Mears (Lady), Ian Taylor (Mariner/Lord), John Hodgkinson, Guy Williams (Lords), Barnaby Kay (Shepherd's Servant), Marc Elliott/Stefan Weclawek (Mamillius), Edmund Kingsley (Child)

1998 RST/1999 Barbican: Gregory Doran
Robert Jones (design); Tim Mitchell (lighting); Ilona Sekacz (music)


Antony Sher (Leontes), Alexandra Gilbreath (Hermione), Ken Bones (Polixenes), Geoffrey Freshwater (Camillo), Estelle Kohler (Paulina), Ian Hughes (Autolycus), Emily Bruni (Perdita/Mamillius), Ryan McCluskey (Florizel), James Hayes (Old Shepherd), Christopher Brand (Young Shepherd), Jeffry Wickham (Antigonus), Gail Ghislaine Sixsmith (Mopsa), Myra McFadyen (Dorcas/Emilia), Peter Macqueen (Gaoler), William Mannering (Cleomenes), Steven Atholl (Dion), Nancy Carroll, Emily Pithon, Paula Stephens (Ladies-in-waiting/Country Girls), Vanessa Earl, Karen Bryson, Florence Sparham (Maids/Country Girls), Christopher Wells (First Lord), Nicholas Kahn (Second Lord/Mariner), Michael Moylan, Gil Cohen-Alloro, Jim Fish, Miltos Yerolemou (Guards/Footmen)

2002 Roundhouse/2002 RST: Matthew Warchus
Vicki Mortimer (design); Hugh Vanstone (lighting); Gary Yershon (music)


Douglas Hodge (Leontes), Anastasia Hille (Hermione), Rolf Saxon (Polixenes), Brian Protheroe (Camillo), Myra Lucretia Taylor (Paulina), Felix Dexter (Autolycus), Lauren Ward (Perdita), Alan Turkington (Florizel), Keith Bartlett (Old Shepherd), Dylan Charles (Young Shepherd), Jude Akuwudike (Antigonus), Sirine Saba (Mopsa), Gracy G. Goldman (Dorcas), Olwen May (Emilia), James Telfer (Gaoler), Fiona Lait (Nurse)

2006-07 Swan (Complete Works Festival): Dominic Cooke
Mike Britton (design); Chris Davey (lighting); Gary Yershon (music); Carolyn Downing (sound); Liz Ranken (movement)


Anton Lesser (Leontes), Kate Fleetwood (Hermione), Nigel Cooke (Polixenes), Joseph Mydell (Camillo), Linda Bassett (Paulina), Richard Katz (Autolycus), Michelle Terry (Perdita), Simon Harrison (Florizel), Richard Moore (Old Shepherd), Trystan Gravelle (Young Shepherd), Ben Onwukwe (Antigonus), Amanda Daniels (Mopsa), Frances Ashman (Dorcas), Jason Barnett (Gaoler), Clarence Smith (Cleomenes), Maynard Eziashi (Dion), Ony Uhiara (Lady), Robin Lawrence (Officer), Daniel Dalton (Servant), Nyasha Hatendi, Ashley Rolfe, Mark Theodore (Sicilian Lords), Jonathan Clowes/Edward Statham (Mamillius)

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