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Pericles – the musical!

Pericles – the musical!

It’s Shakespeare like you’ve never seen it!

UCOL Performing Arts students are staging a brand new, topical version of Shakespeare’s play Pericles in Palmerston North this week.

Programme Leader Penni Bousfield says they have taken the play from a medieval, Mediterranean setting to present day and set it in countries around the Pacific Rim: “So Pericles travels to America and Asia (instead of to Greece and Turkey). We've used recent events to give us background for many of the scenes – Hurricane Katrina, for example.”

The students will use a shortened version of Shakespeare’s original script with some changes. “One scene that we’ve rewritten was a medieval tournament but is now a talent contest based on a television game show,” says Penni. “Some of the students have written their own pieces for this contest so it's been quite a collaborative effort!”

It also now has far more song and dance than the original, with numbers arranged by singing and dance tutors Amy Hunt and Sarah Macdonald: Penny says it could almost be billed as Pericles – the Musical.

Pericles, an epic tale of travel, adventure, abduction and shipwreck, is one of Shakespeare's lesser known plays. ”It wasn't popular in the 19th century because it contains some fairly strong stuff, such as Marina (Pericles' daughter) being abducted and sent to work in a brothel,” says Penni. “But it has increased in popularity in recent years because it's a great story with lots of surprising moments on stage.”

Pericles (which means “surrounded by glory") was a prominent and influential statesman, orator, and general of Athens during the city's Golden Age.
Seventeen students, who are just completing UCOL’s Certificate in Performing Arts, will take part in the production, including Jamie Smith and James Tito, who have just won coveted places at Toi Whakaari: The New Zealand Drama School.

The show opens at the UCOL Theatre School at 8 pm Thursday 22 November and runs until Saturday 24 November. Door sales are $5 each and seats are limited.


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