A jealous King Leontes of Sicilia wrongly accuses his queen of adultery and orders that the baby daughter born to them be cast away in the dangerous forests of neighbouring Bohemia. The King realises the error of his judgement too late. The daughter is lost, presumed dead, and the queen too (apparently) dies of trauma when she hears of the death of her only son, Mamillus. Then begins a miraculous reversal of fortunes as the long-lost daughter resurfaces to be married with the crown prince of Bohemia. This is followed by the mother of all miracles when Queen Hermione is resurrected from hibernation to be reunited with a now contrite and much chastened King Leontes.
The Sixth Formers of Tenby Schools Ipoh have once again brought Shakespeare to life on the school stage in the Kinta Valley. Since the inception of the Sixth Form in January 2010, the Shakespearean drama tradition at Tenby has continued to dazzle and delight school audiences in this city where the drama tradition is splendidly sustained by three leading schools – SMK St Michael, Ipoh, SMK Methodist (ACS) Ipoh and Tenby Schools Ipoh.
“Shakespearean drama is our forte at our sixth form,” explains Shamina Ashiqin Gul who directs this year’s rendition of ‘The Winter’s Tale’. “It is a compulsory requirement for all sixth formers at our school. For six months, we have a most rewarding and thrilling experience of play reading, rehearsals and animated discussions on how best to choreograph and present the story.”
The original Shakespearean text is carefully studied before being revised and rendered in modern English.
“We seek to align the play with the Ministry of Education’s emphasis on edifying moral values,” comments Mr Louis Rozario Doss who has been one of Malaysia’s most ardent theatre specialists. “Shakespearean plays may not be fully presentable in the raw for Malaysian secondary schools. There is very often a lot of what we would describe as ‘adult’ content in Shakespeare.”
Among the Shakespearean plays Louis has adapted for Malaysian schools are ‘Macbeth’, ‘The Merchant of Venice’, ‘As You Like It’, ‘A Midsummer Night’s Dream’, ‘Julius Caesar’ and ‘The Winter’s Tale’. The scripts are all in digitalized version and are available on Kindle Books. Louis himself was a product of the school stage during his days as student and later Principal of SMK St Michael, Ipoh (1998-2005). He is currently the head of the Sixth Form at Tenby Schools Ipoh.
The romance of the play is beautifully captured in the acting of Bryan Yong (Prince Florizel) and Mahalia Chong (Princess Perdita). With their delightful blend of sweet words, graceful dances and the music created by Sean Chin, the cold, wintry world of Sicilia is banished and we revel in a pastoral world of shepherd folk in the midst of birdsong, heather and green meadows.
“The play is like the blessing of rain on a dry, sterile desert. We feel the need for a ritual cleansing after King Leontes’ calamitous slander on Queen Hermione,” reflects Jasdeep Singh (King Leontes). “Jealousy and mistrust poison the atmosphere and are finally washed away by a tidal wave of truth, justice and reconciliation.”
‘The Winter’s Tale’ will be performed at various schools in the Kinta Valley in June-August 2015. For more details, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 010 390 5011.
Harjinder Singh Seggu