'Pericles, Prince of Tyre' Brings the Circus to Town

While it may come as a surprise, Shakespeare only wrote of part of “Pericles, Prince of Tyre.” The other half is most likely penned by another writer, George Wilkins. In the Harvard-Radcliffe Dramatic Club’s latest incarnation of this romance, “Pericles” will add even more collaborators as a cast and crew of Harvard students bring their own ideas to the table.

Director Matthew H. Munroe ’17 interprets the play as a search for family. The play begins with Pericles’s search for a wife. He soon wins the hand of the beautiful Thaisa. Pericles is unfortunately separated from both his wife and his daughter, Marina. The play then follows Marina as she encounters her own ordeals.

The serious dramatic plot points of prostitution, piracy, and murder are considerable obstacles to the family’s reunion, yet a sense of optimism prevails. The focus of the story is on how each character overcomes their obstacles. “[The story] is more like being swept along by this journey,” Munroe says. “[It] has a such a storytelling feel that it didn’t make sense to me to present it as a drama.”

The setting of “Pericles” is fantastically changed, taking place in a circus. “The whole concept for the show is that we’re a traveling circus troupe,” Michaela J. Kane ’18 (who plays the role of the narrator, Gower) says. “The narrator is the ringmaster of the circus, Thaisa is an acrobat, Marina’s a tightrope walker, Cleon is a flame artist, and Pericles is lion tamer. Which is kind of cool. But there are no lions. Sorry.”

Aislinn E. Brophy ’17 who will be playing Dionyza, Bawd, Second Fisherman, and Daughter, indicated that her favorite moments in the play are the most chaotic ones. “The fact that it’s set as a circus is a really fun innovation, and there’s a lot of going in and out of tents and changing costumes,” she says.“There’s a part where one of the characters gets stolen by pirates.”


Munroe added that there will be some fun cast-audience interaction during the show: “The actors are going to be interacting with the audience at points.”  It seems ready to be a rowdy Shakespearean tribute—using the original script, but with creative new staging and costumes.



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