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Professor Directs ShakespeareFest's 'Winter's Tale'

February 17, 2015

Tragedy and comedy come to life in “The Winter’s Tale,” directed by UC Merced’s very own Katherine Brokaw. Presented by Merced ShakespeareFest, the four-act play is among the last written by William Shakespeare and is Brokaw’s favorite.

UC Merced lecturer Dawn Trook is Queen Hermione in "The Winter's Tale"The first three acts are tragic and then you finish off with comedy, love and reach this point of tenuous harmony,” the literature professor said. “The audience gets to see the effects of the main character’s bad decisions, but then there is the fulfillment from seeing him redeemed.”

Setting the play in the mid-1950s to late 1960s has allowed Brokaw to have fun with the score, replacing the traditional music with pop songs like “Scarborough Fair” by Simon and Garfunkel.

As a researcher, directing this show has helped me to understand the play in a whole new way,” she said.

It’s also given Brokaw the opportunity for diverse collaborations. The 35-member cast is studded with UC Merced connections: students, faculty and children of faculty and staff.

Applied mathematics major Aaron Bremner plays the part of Autolycus, a wandering thief and ballad salesman. Though this is his first show with ShakespereFest, Bremner is no stranger to the iconic playwright ’s work. The senior has performed in various shows in his hometown of Sonoma, and he’s excited to bring “The Winter’s Tale” to life in Merced.

This show will be remarkable,” he said. “The brilliant pairing of scenes to music is sure to move the audience. Those who attend will be lucky enough to laugh, cry and see some die all in one evening.”

Other UC Merced cast members include:

  • Jayson Beaster-Jones, music professor
  • Soheil Fatehi, student
  • Taryn Hakala, lecturer
  • Amber Kirby, alumna
  • Jenni Samuelson, lecturer
  • Dawn Trook, lecturer

Performances are Feb. 20 through 22 and Feb. 27 through March 1 at the Merced Multicultural Arts Center, 645 W. Main St., Merced. Curtain is at 7:30 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays, and 2 p.m. on Sundays. Tickets are $ 12 for the general public and $8 for students. Tickets are available at the arts center during business hours or from the Playhouse Merced Box Office (209-725-8587).