The Annapolis Shakespeare Company is presenting “The Winter’s Tale” at in the formal gardens of the Charles Carroll House, located at 107 Duke of Gloucester Street. Annapolis MD, with pre-ordered boxed picnics provided by Light House Bistro.
This production, directed by Sally Boyett, and is inspired by New York City’s famed “Shakespeare in the Park”, ASC’s 4th annual epic outdoor performance is known for its unique staging and Broadway aesthetic. Shakespeare’s great romantic comedy weaves a stirring and delightful story of jealousy passion, tyranny, disguise, magic, and forgiveness.
Annapolis Shakespeare Company (ASC) is a Helen Hayes Award-nominated regional theatre company, offering over 200 live performances annually, and serving Anne Arundel County as the leading professional arts provider of school matinees and student workshops. ASC’s mission is to produce bold, re-imagined, entertaining and accessible interpretations of classical works, contemporary plays, and musicals.
ASC is committed to promoting the highest level of artistic excellence, to cultivating the widest possible audience, and to contribute to the economic and cultural growth of our community, state, and region with the following experiences and programs: a year-round season of professional theatre, educational Artist-in-Residence programs, pre-professional training and internship programs. The Annapolis Shakespeare Company enriches the human community through the revelation of beauty and the illumination of fundamental truths of human experience.
I had a chance to interview Matthew Provenza, an actor in this production.
Matthew Provenza is a Michigan native from Metro-Detroit. He attended the University of Michigan (BFA Acting, 2016). Previous acting training also includes the American Conservatory Theatre in San Francisco, the Stella Adler Conservatory, and privately with Susan Aston of the Actors Studio. Past New York credits include: “The Shoemaker’s Holiday” (Storm Theatre Co.), “The Rainmaker” (Storm Theatre Co.), “Chokher Bali” (Hypokrit Theatre Co.), and “Last Train Home” (Afrikan Women’s Rep.). Matthew is thrilled to be a part of, “The Winter’s Tale,” with such a talented cast and creative team.
- Can you tell us a little more about yourself? Where do you live? Where were you born? What made you decide to become an actor and when?
Currently, I live in Washington Heights, Manhattan in New York City. The energy, hustle, and intensity of big city life makes you hold yourself to a higher standard. It’s a lot of fun. I was born in Royal Oak, Michigan, which is about 15 minutes from Detroit. My parents raised my older brother and me in the metro-Detroit area, and it was a wonderful place to grow up. The Great Lakes were always an idyllic summer getaway spot for us. I acted in school most of my life; my buddy Nick Sergison and I did a lot of productions and bits at our small, Lutheran grade school. Then, I went on to be in slightly more serious productions at Farmington High School under the guidance of teachers Carrie Ray and Lauren Keur. But I think the decision to pursue acting as a livelihood came when I studied at the University of Michigan BFA Acting program. The list of brilliant, inspiring teachers there goes on and on. It’s a stellar acting program, and where I started taking the craft seriously.
- Which character(s) are you playing in “The Winter’s Tale” and what can you tell us a little about the character? Other than your character, is there another character you would like to play in “The Winter’s Tale”?
In ASC’s production of, “The Winter’s Tale,” I’ll be playing Florizel along with some other ensemble roles. Florizel is the prince of Bohemia and the son of King Polixenes. Much to his father’s chagrin, he falls in love with a “low-born” shepherdess, or so she seems, named Perdita, and he has to decide between becoming the rightful heir to the throne or true love. In the future, I’d love to play Leontes. The actor playing him in our production, Dexter Hamlett, is just genius. I’d also really like to play Camillo and Autolycus someday. But the actors in the show are so strong, so solid that every role becomes appealing working alongside them.
- Do you regard this play as one of Shakespeare’s comedies, romance plays or a combination? Do you think there is a bit of tragedy as well?
The play definitely has elements of tragedy, comedy, and romance. It’s one of his hardest plays to classify, which is another good reason to see it. It’s a complex story of jealousy, obsession, forgiveness, and love. Like all of his plays, it has a sincerity and depth that can’t be missed. Directors Sally Boyett and Donald Hicken have done an excellent job in finding the clarity and urgency in the piece. It’s not an easy play to direct, and they’ve created a magnificent world in which to play as an actor.
- Have you done other Shakespearean plays? If so where and what characters did you play?
The only other Shakespeare plays I’ve done are, “The Comedy of Errors,” in which I played Balthazar, and “Henry IV pt. 1,” in which I played King Henry IV. Both were done at the University of Michigan. Hopefully, “The Winter’s Tale,” will be the first of many in my professional career. Annapolis is certainly a beautiful place to kick it off.
- How do you think performing Shakespeare is different than modern plays, or is it the same?
Performing Shakespeare is really the gold standard and a phenomenal opportunity for any actor. His works informs most, if not all, modern drama, and although it is different in terms of the verse and the way it is written at times, the overall themes are the same. The style varies, but the conflict remains constant. Everyone has risen to the occasion in our production, which in my opinion has made it timeless.
I have to sneak in one last question, real bear or costume?
The bear moment will, of course, be a surprise! But the audience can rest assured there is no planned, real wildlife in the production.
William Shakespeare’s “The Winter’s Tale” is playing July 11-28, Thursdays-Sundays at 7:30 PM. For more information about the Annapolis Shakespeare Company go online to their website. For information on “The Winter’s Tale” go online. To purchase tickets for this production, go online.