Tara’s tale as she makes her winter RSC debut

Published: 19 January 2013
Reporter: Steve Orme

Tara Fitzgerald as Hermione
Jo Stone-Fewings as Leontes
Rakie Ayola as Paulina

Tara Fitzgerald will make her Royal Shakespeare Company debut as Hermione in The Winter’s Tale which opens in Stratford this week.

Shakespeare’s tale of jealousy and forgiveness also marks the return of RSC associate artist Jo Stone-Fewings in the role of Leontes and the RSC debut of Rakie Ayola as Paulina.

Lucy Bailey who directs says, “The Winter's Tale is set in a notional Sicilia and Bohemia. Most interpretations of the play revolve around the relationship of these two worlds.

“When I read the play I had two strong instincts—that Sicilia and Bohemia were one and the same place, just two different modes of being, and that the ‘idyll’ which is often understood to be Bohemia is actually Sicilia.

“In our version, which is set in the 1860s, the play begins in Sicilia where Leontes and his court live a sheltered, beautiful dream of a life, bathed in endless sunshine, and completely removed from the real world of work and suffering. It is in essence an Ivory Tower.

“At the bottom of their tower, well beyond view, is Bohemia where the working men and women, despite their struggle, make the most out of very little. We’ve tried to encapsulate this in our design for the play.”

Tara Fitzgerald has recently finished recording the third series of HBO’s Game of Thrones which will be screened in the US and the UK this year.

On TV she has also appeared in Waking the Dead, Jane Eyre and The Body Farm.

Her theatre appearances include Farewell to The Theatre at Hampstead Theatre, Broken Glass at the Vaudeville Theatre, The Misanthrope at the Comedy Theatre, And Then There Were None at the Gielgud Theatre and A Doll’s House at the Donmar Warehouse and on tour.

Jo Stone-Fewings last appeared with the RSC as Oberon and Theseus in A Midsummer Night’s Dream in 2011. Other RSC credits include Luke Frugal in The City Madam, Orsino in Twelfth Night and the Bastard in King John.

Other recent stage appearances include Heartbreak House and The Way of the World for Chichester Festival Theatre.

Rakie Ayola, best known to many for her role as Kyla Tyson in Holby City, makes her RSC debut as Hermione’s faithful servant Paulina.

Her theatre work includes Welcome To Thebes at the National Theatre, Twelfth Night (Bristol Old Vic), Dido Queen of Carthage (Shakespeare’s Globe) and Hamlet (Birmingham Rep at the Elsinore Festival).

Adam Levy returns to the RSC as Polixenes. He previously appeared as Paris in 2006’s Troilus and Cressida, the Beast in Beauty and The Beast (2003), Napoleon in Back to Methuselah (2000/2001) and Henry IV, Part 1 (2000/2001).

His other theatre credits include Medea (Headlong Productions/National Theatre), The Sunshine Boys (Savoy Theatre) and Henry V (National Theatre).

The cast also includes Daniel Betts (Camillo), Gavin Fowler (Florizel), Nick Holder (young shepherd), Kieran Knowles (gaoler), Pearce Quigley (Autolycus), David Shaw-Parker (shepherd), Sally Bankes (Dorcas), Andrew Hanratty (lord), Daniel Millar (Dion), Charlotte Mills Mopsa), Emma Noakes (Perdita), Joseph Pitcher (Cleomenes), Phil Snowden (mariner), Bethan Walker (Emilia), Ben Whybrow (lord) and Duncan Wisbey (Antigonus).

Lucy Bailey made her RSC directorial debut with Julius Caesar which ran in Stratford, London and New York from 2009 to 2011. This was followed by The Taming of the Shrew which toured the UK early last year.

Her other work includes Macbeth, Timon of Athens and Titus Andronicus at Shakespeare’s Globe, The Beggar’s Opera at the Open Air Theatre, Regent’s Park, The Night Season at the National Theatre and Tonight at 8.30 at the Noël Coward Minerva Theatre, Chichester.

Music for The Winter’s Tale has been composed by Jon Boden, lead singer and founder member of contemporary folk band Bellowhead.

The production is designed by William Dudley, with lighting by Oliver Fenwick and sound by David McSeveney.

The Winter’s Tale will run in the Royal Shakespeare Theatre from Thursday (24 January) until Saturday 23 February. It will tour to Milton Keynes, York, Nottingham, Edinburgh, Hull and Stoke in March and April.