“The Winter's Tale" at the Riverside Theatre Festival Stage -- July 15 through 25.

Thursday, July 15, through Sunday, July 25

Riverside Theatre Festival Stage, Lower City Park, Iowa City IA

A famous William Shakespeare title featuring the Bard's most famous stage direction serves as the first of two free summertime Riverside Theatre productions held in Iowa City's Lower City Park, with The Winter's Tale, from July 15 through 25, treating audiences to passion, treachery, low comedy, high drama, and a potentially unforgettable “exit, pursued by a bear.”

As The Winter's Tale begins, Polixenes, King of Bohemia, has been on a nine-month visit to the court of his childhood friend Leontes, King of Sicilia, and his wife, Queen Hermione. Leontes, however, becomes wrongly convinced that the pregnant Hermione has been having an affair with Polixenes, and the Bohemian king tries to persuade his most trusted courtier, Camillo, to subsequently poison his friend. Yet Camillo, unconvinced of the queen's innocence, instead warns Polixenes of Leontes' suspicions, and they depart for Bohemia together. After some time passes, another courtier, Antigonus, is ordered to abandon Hermione's newborn daughter on a desert shore while Leontes tries Hermione for treason, and the courtier leaves the baby girl on the coast of Bohemia, where an old shepherd and his clownish son eventually find the baby, name her Perdita, and bring her up as a member of their family and name her Perdita. With Shakespeare's narrative then jumping another 16 years, The Winter's Tale ultimately emerges as a combination of tragedy, comedy, romance, and psychological drama, and has been performed and produced by stage artists including John Gielgud, Peter Brook, Kenneth Branagh, and Oscar- and Tony-winning director Sam Mendes.

Directing The Winter's Tale is Riverside Theatre's producing artistic director Adam Knight, who began his tenure in 2018 and spent the previous 17 years as a producer and director in New York City, where he produced 25 world premieres and worked on projects with Ensemble Studio Theatre, Cherry Lane, aMios Theatre, Poetry Project, and HERE Arts Center. Featured in Knight's Winter's Tale cast are Martin Andrews (Leontes), Jessica Link (Hermione), Aaron Weiner (Polixenes), Tim Budd (Camillo), and Elliott Bales (Antigonus), with the play's ensemble also boasting show choreographer Patrick DuLaney, Elijah Jones, Crystal Marie Stewart, Luli Gomez Teruel, Mary Jane Claassen, Christina Sullivan, and Barrington Vaxter. Keegan Christopher serves as stage manager, Olivia Leslie as assistant stage manager, and the play's design team includes S. Benjamin Farrar (scenic and lighting), Karle Meyers (costumes), and technical director Chris Rich (sound).

The Winter's Tale will be performed on Lower City Park's Riverside Theatre Festival Stage from July 15 through 25, with productions taking place Thursdays through Sundays at 7:30 p.m. Shows will be preceded at 6:30 p.m. by lawn activities, games, and refreshments, and nightly “Green Shows” will begin at 7 p.m. in the adjacent picnic area, providing fun, comedic, family-friendly introductions to the play and the world of Shakespeare. Admission is free, and more information is available by visiting RiversideTheatre.org.

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