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USM Gorham kicks off ‘23-’24 season with The Winter’s Tale

GORHAM, ME — Somewhere between Sicilia and Bohemia, wild jealousy and unfounded accusations are driving Leontes, the King of Sicily, to set a tragedy in motion that will cost everyone in his world dearly. Juggling drama, comedy, suspense, and romance, The Winter’s Tale explores the destructive force of the aristocracy and the healing power of the natural world to restore broken families and lost love. An eclectic cast of characters weaves a story that shows what love, faith, and a little bit of magic can do to heal old wounds. 

Director Tess Van Horn, working with a cast of over 20 USM students, calls this later work of Shakespeare, “grand, exciting, elaborate, and incredibly entertaining.” She continues, “ It has also been argued that it is one of his more feminist works since the female characters are complex, interesting and intellectual. It also pushes the boundaries of magical realism which became more and more of a common theme in Shakespeare’s later work.”

Working with young actors new to Shakespeare has been an important part of this process. Van Horn says, “It can feel so daunting to tackle his unique language but the opportunity to dig into the play and examine it through the lens of a detective can be so fun and satisfying. There is also a beautiful natural rhythm to the language and once a performer is able to find it there is tremendous reward.”

For Emma Graffam, USM Theatre major from Lebanon, ME who plays Hermione, the challenges of comprehending and interpreting Shakespeare’s work have been worth it. “It’s honestly such a fun and beautiful show. The characters are so real, this cast has done a wonderful job of breathing life into them. And, even though Shakespeare lived hundreds of years before me, I can still connect with his play. And audience members deserve to experience that too.”

Ultimately, The Winter’s Tale lives between several genres – it is a tragedy and comedy, a love story and a courtroom drama, a tale about palace intrigue as well as a romp through the pastoral imaginary land of Bohemia. For Director Van Horn, she hopes the audience will enjoy the rollercoaster of genre and emotions. “At the end of the day, it’s Shakespeare’s version of an elaborate fairy tale and I hope that the audience can step into this universe with joy and curiosity and walk away feeling like they’ve been part of something magical and otherworldly.”

The Winter’s Tale opens October 27th and runs through November 5th. All performances take place on the USM Gorham campus in historic Russell Hall. 

FMI & Tickets: or call the USM Theatre Box Office at (207) 780-5151.

A Winter’s Tale By William Shakespeare, Directed by Tess Van Horn

October 27-November 5

Friday, October 27, 7pm

Saturday, October 28, 7pm

Sunday, October 29, 2pm

Wednesday, November 1, 10am – All tickets $8

Thursday, November 2, 7pm – All tickets pay-what-you-can

Friday, November 3, 10am – All tickets $8

Friday, November 3, 7pm 

Saturday, November 4, 7pm

Sunday, November 5, 2pm

Special performances for schools and community groups are scheduled for Wednesday, November 1, and Friday, November 3, at 10am. The show is appropriate for grades 9 and up. 

To bring your school or community group, contact Audiences Services & Outreach Coordinator, Janice Gardner at  

Ticket Prices: $18 for Adults; $14 for USM Faculty, Staff & Alumni; $12 for Seniors 65+; $8 for Students/Youth; Pay What You Can: 11/2 at 7pm All tickets $8: 11/1 & 11/3 10am performances

Those needing special accommodations to participate fully in this program, contact Janice Gardner at (207)780-5289 or Hearing impaired: call USM’s telex / TDD number (207)780-5646

Photo by French Photography @frenchsfotos.

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