The Winter's Tale

Written by William Shakespeare
Directed for Actonians by Pat Stimson


Polixenes, King of Bohemia, has been visiting his boyhood friend, Leontes, King of Sicilia, for nine months and now needs to return home to his wife and son and his royal duties. Leontes asks him to stay longer and then encourages his heavily pregnant Queen, Hermione. to persuade him. She is so successful that Leontes becomes insanely jealous and concludes that they have been having an affair. He orders his counsellor and friend, the Lord Camillo, to poison Polixenes, but Camillo warns Polixenes and they escape to Bohemia.

Leontes then turns on his wife, Hermione, accusing her of adultery and orders her to be tried for this and treason. Hermione gives birth to a daughter, Perdita, and despite the efforts of the Lady Paulina to make Leontes see reason, he orders her husband, Antigonus, to take the child and abandon it in some remote place.

Hermione is put on trial and declared innocent by the Delphic Oracle. Leontes refuses to accept it, his son dies, Hermione collapses and Paulina informs him that his queen is now dead. Leontes realises the depth of his Tyranny and declares that with Paulina's help he will dedicate the rest of his life to grieving for his dead wife and son and a reconciliation with Polixenes and Camillo.

Meanwhile, Antigonus has taken the baby to the coast of Bohemia where he leaves her together with documents, etc, for identification. He is then killed by a bear while trying to get back to his sinking ship. A shepherd and his son find the baby and take her to their home.

Time moves on sixteen years.

Carmillo has lived at Polixenes' court and now wishes to return home to Sicilia, but Polixenes, worried by his son, Prince Florizel's neglect of his royal duties to spend time at a shepherd's house, asks Camillo to stay and help him follow his son. Camillo reluctantly agrees and they go to the shepherd's house in disguise.

Perdita has grown into a beautiful young woman and is queen of the Sheep-shearing festival. She and Florizel have fallen in love and at the festival, Florizel announces his intention to marry her. Enraged, Polixenes reveals his identity and forbids it, threatening Perdita, the Shepherd and his son with death if the affair continues.

Florizel renounces his father and the throne of Bohemia for Perdita and Camillo suggests that they go to Sicilia and Leontes' court. Knowing that Poliuxenes will follow his son, Camillo tells him of their plans. The frightened shepherd and his son decide to show Polixenes the documents they found with Perdita but are met on their way by the thief, Autolycus, who misdirects them onto the boat going to Sicilia.

Leontes' welcome to the couple is interrupted by a message from Polixenes, insisting that they are detained. The shepherd arrives with proof of Perdita's identity, their betrothal is blessed by Polixenes, the kings are reconciled and Paulina learns of Antigonus' death. The court then go to Paulina's house for the unveiling of a statue of Hermione... or is it?


Leontes (King of Sicilia) Simon Carney
Hermione (Queen of Sicilia) Michelle Clare Hudson
Mamillius (Prince of Sicilia) Josie Chapman
Perdita (Princess of Sicilia) Sarah Godsell
Camillo (a noble of Sicilia) Mike Schofield
Antigonus (a noble of Sicilia) Godfrey Laundy
Paulina (Antigonus' wife) Sarah McMahon
A Mariner Mike Schofield
Polixenes (King of Bohemia) Rob Pardoe
Florizel (Prince of Bohemia) Matthew Godsell
Archidamus (a Bohehian courtier) Alan Cross
Autolycus (a Rogue) Rob Creer
A shepherd of Bohemia Malcomb Watson
Clown (the shepherd's son) Nick Pearce
Emilia (a servant lady to Hermione) Di Pardoe
Lady 1 (of the Sicilian Court) Helen Briggs
Lady 2 (of the Sicilian Court) Gaynor Clark
Mopsa (a Bohemian shepherdess) Becky Sawicki-Gregg
Dorcas (a Bohemian shepherdess) Andy Fisher
A lord of the Sicilian court Terry Mills
An officer of the Sicilian court Geoff Wilkinson
Time (a personification) Di Pardoe
Autolycus (a disgraced courtier) Rob Creer
Peasants in Bohemia
Godfrey Laundy
Helen Briggs
Gaynor Clark
Servants in Sicilia
Becky Sawicki-Gregg
Andy Fisher
Photographs Ray Bulmer