Actors Shakespeare Company at NJCU Seeking Donations to Fund The Winter’s Tale Production

The Actors Shakespeare Company of New Jersey is seeking help from the public to stage its upcoming production of William Shakespeare’s The Winter’s Tale.

As many Shakespeare fans know, the show is known for being considered by some a “problem play” (for its mix of tragedy and comedy) as well as the source of the Bard’s most famous stage direction, “Exit, pursued by a bear.” As Artistic/Education Director Colin Ryan says, “The Winter’s Tale is a play that has something for everyone — there’s high tragedy, low comedy, there’s court intrigue, rustic celebrations, singing, dancing, jealousy, love, people who really mean well and do terrible harm and people who mean not so well and they’re the ones who save the day. Plus, a guy gets eaten by a bear. I don’t think you can lose.”

Along with Director Bethany Reeves, General Manager Jennifer America and Music Director Anthony Bez, Ryan pleads with theater lovers to contribute to their IndieGoGo crowdfunding campaign, which was very recently launched. As of publication, they’ve raised $100 of their $10,000 goal and have until March 19 to raise the remainder; otherwise, the project won’t receive any funds from its backers.

In return for contributions, funders will receive certain rewards including a sonnet or Shakespearean insult delivered to the person of your choice by one of ASC’s actors and other perks for $50; an ASC coffee mug, signed production photo and more for $100; and even a private fencing lesson or monologue coaching session with an ASC artist for $1,000.

The company, based at New Jersey City University and the West Side Theater, describes the play as such: A jealous tyrant, a queen on trial, two simple shepherds, young romance, a divine oracle, a singing con-man and one hungry, hungry bear make The Winter’s Tale a magical journey of loss, renewal, and the promise of Spring.

In the story, King Leontes of Sicilia becomes convinced that his wife, Hermione, and his friend, King Polixenes of Bohemia, are having an affair and tries to murder his friend and accuses his pregnant wife of infidelity. This leads to her public humiliation at a trial which ends with Leontes discovering the innocence of his wife, who gives birth to a daughter whom he sends away to some desolate place. The stress of the ordeal kills their son Mamilius and after the trial, Leontes finds himself mourning the loss of his son, wife and daughter.

The daughter, Perdita, grows up as a shepherd girl and after sixteen years, falls in love with Prince Florizel, the son of Polixenes. Then begins a new chapter (the “pastoral act” of the play) that eventually leads to reconciliation, rebirth and new beginnings for all.

In addition to hosting a mainstage production at the West Side Theater, ASC does educational outreach through different schools in Jersey City, hosts field trips and also has discounted tickets for students. Many of JC’s kids have their first experience watching Shakespeare or experiencing live theater in general through ASC’s work.

The show will run from April 5 through 21 on Fridays at 7:30 pm and weekends at 3 pm, with a jumpstart discussion with an ASC artist about the play every night 30 minutes before curtain. There will also be a special preview performance on April 4 at 7:30 pm. For more information, visit their website

In related news, as part of “Tales Told in Light: A Film Series,” NJCU is hosting a screening of Marcel Camus’s Black Orpheus, a retelling of the Orpheus and Eurydice myth set during the time of Carnaval in Rio de Janeiro and winner of the Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film. The free event will be held Feb. 21 at 5 pm in the Gothic Lounge at Hepburn Hall 202 at the university, located at 2039 Kennedy Blvd. For tickets, click here.

Summer Dawn Hortillosa

is a freelance arts and entertainment writer whose work has appeared in the Jersey City Independent, The Jersey Journal, the International and other publications. She is also a creative writer and theatrical director.