The University of West Florida’s production of Shakespeare’s “Pericles” opens this weekend. Set in the Ancient world, “Pericles” spans fourteen years and chronicle’s the hero’s travels through Greece, Syria, and the Middle East.
The production follows the original text but uses rock music as a narrative device. For example, the scene where Pericles participates in a jousting competition to win the hand of the princess Thaisa is set to Queen’s “Another One Bites the Dust.” Each of the islands that Pericles visits has its own musical theme, such as grunge, folk rock, and new wave.
Pericles was Shakespeare’s first romance, written just before he wrote “A Winter’s Tale.” Sam Osheroff, visiting assistant professor at UWF’s Theater Department and director of the play, says that Shakespeare did not write the first three acts of the play and that the writing improves visibly in its final two acts.
Osheroff chose to stage this play because it spreads the burden of the acting throughout the cast and does not depend on the performance of the leading characters, such as Othello and Iago in “Othello.” All of the actors except those portraying Pericles and Gower the narrator play multiple parts. Thompson Chestnutt, a senior design and theater major at UWF, plays six different characters.
The show is being staged at the Studio Theatre at UWF’s Center for Fine and Performing Arts, which is a black box theater, where the audience sits on three different sides of the stage. This is the first play to be staged in the Studio Theatre since The Importance of Being Earnest in November 2011.
Pericles opens on Friday November 15 at 8pm. The show runs through November 24. Performances are Friday and Saturday at 8pm with Sunday matinees at 2:30pm.