Last year Brian Blessed’s King Lear brought more drama than was anticipated when he was taken seriously ill with a heart problem during a performance. Undaunted, the Guildford Shakespeare Company is back next month with A Winter’s Tale.
The Bard’s unsettling work of contrasts: winter and summer; old and young; fantasy and reality come together in a production that will be directed by Caroline Devlin and staged in the newly restored church on Guildford High Street.
The play will be set in around 1860, with the Sicilian royal family emulating the power and majesty of Victorian England, while the Bohemian section of the story will reflect the colour and vibrancy of the Indian sub-continent.
Writer and actress Tracy Brabin is set to play Paulina. The rest of the cast is Selma Brooke, Sarah Gobran, Harmage Singh Kalirai, Robert Mountford, Gideon Turner, Matt Pinches, Chris Porter.
Taking inspiration from The Winter’s Tale – and the ambitions for the theatre company’s future – GSC’s 10th Anniversary programme has been given the theme of New Beginnings and will also include The Comedy of Errors and Much Ado About Nothing to be staged later in the year.
2016 follows the company’s most successful year to date with nearly 15,000 audience members and wall-to-wall sell-out performances.
Guildford Shakespeare Company is a site responsive theatre company specialising in Shakespeare. It uses found spaces, local landmarks, heritage sites and vacant buildings in and around the Surrey town to create dynamic and challenging productions.
In the last 12 months GSC has staged 140 live performances with productions of King Lear starring the mighty Brian Blessed and original adaptations of The Wind in the Willows and Alice in Wonderland.
Brian Blessed has now become the company’s honorary patron. the actor said: “I am delighted to be honorary patron of the Guildford Shakespeare Company. This company is nothing short of miraculous. Congratulations on your 10th Anniversary, coinciding with the 400th Anniversary of Shakespeare’s death. A momentous year – a great company.”
The Winter’s Tale plays at the Holy Trinity Church, Guildford, from February 8 to 27.