A Winter’s Tale–Cabinet of Memories

For A Winter’s Tale, the Triangle Lab Wall features a cabinet of objects that we are asking patrons to explore and share memories that are evoked by them. Read some of people’s memories below:

Perfume Bottle


“I thought immediately of perfume. My grandmother used to have larger versions of this object, and I would hang out in her ‘fancy’ bathroom and try all the different perfumes out of the beautiful bottles”


“Old people”

“I’m reminded of my grandmother who was born in Ireland. She came to the United States when she was 3, but remembers seeing the Satue of Liberty as they arrived in New York”



“Grandma sitting at her vanity table fixing her hair”

Wooden Top
“My mother has/had two of these. We were not permitted to play with. However—we have them now and let our grandkids touch them ☺”

“The dark chocolate ice cream bar was delicious so far. Still some to go.—like life!”

“Reminds me of trying to teach grandkids how to spin”

“I think it’s just an old fashioned top. Big woop!”

“Looks like an acorn”

“Makes me think of all the Christian kids playing dredil at our Hanuka party”

“5 year old me went to a business convention with my father—the first of its kind in Vietnam after 1975—My dad was the inventor of these new styles of bookcases and furnitures that used parts that looked just like this object. Nobody really bought this stuff. We ended up with a lot of bookcases and furnitures of his design ☺”

“Once upon a time their was a snail named Bob”

“I believe it’s a dreidle. I have no memory of ever playing with one. I once bought a small one for my son because all of his friends were celebrating Channukah”

“The top reminds me about something completely different—my trip to the Louisville Slugger Bat Factory and museum in Louisville, KY in 2012. I can’t get the image of the bats being turned on a lahte and the smell of fresh wood chips on the floor.”

“I remember when the nice lady at the table next to ours came over with this wicker basket full of cards and a wooden, acorn-shaped top and asked us to write about a memory associated with this object. ☺”

“Age seven, there was a restaurant in San Leandro that was a buffet about 1973. They gave wood tops away to chilren for eating there. I remember my grandfather giving me tops from this place. He was cheap.”

“The sound of rocks tumbling on St Mary’s beach in Newfoundland 2004”

“The top reminds me of my trip to visit family in the Açores when I was 7 (1984). My Tio Francisco gave me two tops that he had made. One had been finely shaped with tools to maximize the spin. The other had been roughly carved with a knife—basically a square plannted on a pyramid. Both are displayed on a bookshelf in my living room today.”

“Rarity, ancient, prized, valuable, sentimental, functional, aged, filled with finger prints, wood, acorn, support, structure, charcoal, burnt, smoked, scratched, chipped, peek-a-boo, barrel, dusty, hand-filled”


A Winter’s Tale–Cabinet of Memories

For A Winter’s Tale, the Triangle Lab Wall features a cabinet of objects that we are asking patrons to explore and share memories that are evoked by them. Read some of people’s memories below:

Broken Watch Piece
“I think about all the watches I’ve worn and lost generally made pretty cheaply and purchased at the drug store. This one looks like it was really built to last”

“Railroad pocket watch. Taking a trip. Train whistle. Pulling away from the station.”

“There is a book called the Clockwork Angel that I read with friends in high school”

“Reminds me of the pocket watch my uncle gifted me 35 years ago on my 1st visit to California”

“A Star Trek communicator from the Next Gen series…WEIRD, I KNOW”

“A computer part used in a home on Atlantis”

Clapper Toy
“Disneyland and its ice cream. The ice cream was in shapes of, Mickey, Cinderella’s carraige, and Goofy. The one it reminds me of the most is the glove shape one”

“This is the sound of one red hand clapping”

“One must be able to clap politely, even outdoors”


Ball on a String
“6 year old visiting the elderly neighbors, learning to play jacks and marbles and ball in a cup—happy”


“Smooth curves amid the smell of wood. ball to balance if I could”

“When I was a child I had a solobat”

“Playing with my Alaskan bear, Opal”

“1st time to watch Fiddler on the Roof”

“Childhood→accidentally whacking another kid in the head. Tears”

“Stores in Chinatown”

“My Swedish nanny”



A Winter’s Tale–Cabinet of Memories

For A Winter’s Tale, the Triangle Lab Wall features a cabinet of objects that we are asking patrons to explore and share memories that are evoked by them. Read some of people’s memories below:

Family Photo
“Silly, jovial, LOVE”

“Milestones of life piling on each other newer smothering the older—older bearing the weight”

“My wedding day!”

“My friend Dave’s grandma”

“Family gatherings full of happiness”

“Happiness, joy, family, love”

Doll Dress
“The smell reminds me a bit of my Oma’s house. She died in April, and when we cleaned out her house we found a bunch of great old dresses she had made for herself”

“I think this will make me look great next time I go to the gym”

“It makes me think of babies and my mom’s dolls from the 50s”

“Reminds me of a doll dress/nightie. Homemade. A little girl doll being put to bed”

“Beer cozie and hanging brides dress EPIC”

“This object evokes a memory of a garage sale”

“My stuffed animal”

“Reminds me of Twiggy—blast from the past!”

“Dress reminds me of Jackie Kennedy”

“She yelled…you’re the worst uncle ever!”

“It reminds me of my Grandparent’s house. I used to make forts in their living room with blankets that felt like this. I love my grandparents.”

“Reminds me of sewing clothes for my dolls on my Mom’s machine in the basement…the 70s in Minnesota”

“Reminds me of my sister’s Barbie Doll called with home made clothes. Alas—I was resigned to play GI Joe”

“I am reading Wolf Hall and the dress reminds me of the muslin shifts that all women were wearing in the 1500s—either as an underlayer or for the less fortunate as their main garment”

“A fencing tunic for a Ken doll!”

“My mother, born in 1927, saved 3 of her baby dresses which decorated the walls of her bedroom”

“My grandmother’s basement is full of antique furniture, clothing, and toys. This little doll onesie would fit right in”

“The dress reminds me of a vintage doll from Boise, Idaho. A doll from my from my grandma’s basement.”

“Honeycomb and thermals!”

“The dress reminds me of the underclothing on a vintage doll that is in a museum in Denmark and has my hair on it! Fun memory”

“1) Hospital gown. 2) Dolls and various dresses I used to put them in. 3) Toga for Romans.”

“No wire hangers”

“It reminds me of a baby christening gown”

“I remember my first born. Dressing him for the first time so scared I would hurt him. He’s a college freshman now. Taller than me”

“This little garment reminds me of the time I made clothing for my daughter’s doll. A very pleasant memory”

“Little dress reminds me of making dresses for my 3 year old daughter”



A Winter's Tale by Alessandra Mello

Tristan Cunningham, Zion Richardson, Omoze Idehenre, Mackenzie Kwok in A Winter's Tale; photo by mellopix.com.

The top five commonly asked questions around the Cal Shakes offices about our current production of Shakespeare’s A Winter’s Tale—answered at last.

1. Is there going to be a bear onstage?

From Cal Shakes Artistic Director Jonathan Moscone: Yes, but you’ll have to see it to find out how it appears.

2. Why is this play less performed/less well known/adapted into film?

From Production Dramaturg Cathleen Sheehan: The play certainly presents some truly daunting challenges in terms of story and staging. There is the dramatic shift in location and tone between Sicilia and Bohemia, the 16-year leap forward, a shipwreck off the coast of Bohemia (which, depending on which scholar you ask about where the  borders were, historically had no coastline), a statue which appears to come back to life, and the tricky business of Antigonus who must “exit pursued by a bear.”

In spite of these challenges and its shifting popularity, A Winter’s Tale has been staged fairly consistently since its inception. In the centuries following its first performances, directors handled these challenges in various ways—sometimes cutting huge portions of the play or allowing one tone to dominate—playing up the Classical themes, for example. In 1756, David Garrick presented Florizel and Perdita at Drury Lane, cutting the first three acts entirely. While 19th–century and early 20th–century productions reinstated Leontes and Hermione as the compelling emotional center of the play, the popular desire for elaborate spectacle meant that the more theatrical elements tended to overshadow the language, characters, and story—and cost a pretty penny as well.

More recently, directors have embraced a more balanced approach to the complexity of the play and accepted the story on its own terms—as a tale including divine, natural, and unusual elements, but one that is essentially human in its struggles and triumphs…with the occasional entrance of a bear.

3. Where in time and space does the play take place?

From Director Patricia McGregor: In this production, in the near future through a Narniaesque door to fantastical fertile lands and the labyrinthine interiors of the self.

4. How will music and dance be featured in the production?

Tristan Cunningham as Perdita

Tristan Cunningham as Perdita in A Winter's Tale; photo by Alessandra Mello.

From Director Patricia McGregor: A Winter’s Tale is performed by a group of traveling storytellers with many tricks up their sleeves. The actors playing Paulina and Autolycus are the ringleaders of this wild theatricalist journey and often use music and dance to transport and transform both the players and the audience. At times, the audience is invited to participate in celebrations and ceremonies through song and dance.

5. What about the play lends itself to a participatory experience?

From Triangle Lab Director Rebecca Novick: I think any play has the potential to be a participatory experience, if the director and the producing theater share that vision.  We like to say that any play could be enriched by “starting with a potluck and ending with everyone dancing on stage.” That said, those are specific participatory activities, and we like to work with directors to design the levels and types of participation that will work best for their production.  In this case, Patricia is particularly interested in how to use a play to build community with an audience, to help people see themselves inside stories that might feel strange or foreign to them, and to encourage people to find their own creative selves.  Seen through that lens, Winter’s Tale is particularly appropriate because it’s a play that asks us to believe that magic can unfreeze our stuck hearts and in Patricia’s production that magic is created collectively by the audience.

A Winter’s Tale runs now through October 20, 2013.


Personalize Our Onstage License Plate!

In our upcoming production of A Winter’s Tale, travelling storytellers spill out of a vehicle to invite you into the story. And since we marketing folks have got connections with the props department (who are so much friendlier than the DMV), director Patricia McGregor has asked us to ask you to decide what goes on the license plate!

The entry the company likes the best gets put on the plate—and earns its creator two tickets to see A Winter’s Tale, and a photo with the vehicle.

Post your entry—no more than seven characters long—by 5pm PST on Wednesday, September 18, one of the following four ways:

Patricia and the cast would like it to have a nod to Spunk, our 2012 production that got so many of them together for the first time.  Here are some ideas that have been thrown around already; maybe they’ll get you thinking.

diddly wah diddy
D wah D

A Winter’s Tale runs September 25–October 20, 2013.




A Winter's Tale

Callie Cullum's show art for A WINTER'S TALE, featuring Omozé Idehenre as Hermione; photo by Jeff Singer.

Philippa Kelly, resident dramaturg for Cal Shakes, shares her thoughts on the current production, and invites your questions. A Winter’s Tale runs September 25–October 20, 2013.

As directed by Patricia McGregor, A Winter’s Tale suggests the overwhelming power of emotion to govern and transform the authority of a king: At the start of the play, it is explosive jealousy that “rules” Leontes, the king of Sicilia; by the end, it’s compassion and sorrow that govern him, by way of the transformative power of his own tears.

Coming right in the middle of King James’ reign over England, Shakespeare wove into this play his profound belief in the truth of monarchy as well as his skeptical knowledge that a king is but a man. The collapse of a king’s authority into blind personal jealousy—resulting in death and even in assumed murder—would have been, to Shakespeare’s audiences, like an apocalypse. For any man, tears have all-too-often been seen as weakness: yet here we have a king whose tears take him to a new strength, a new belief in the power of love, and a knowledge that no man should assume power over others that serves only his own interest.

The “saint-like sorrow” performed in A Winter’s Tale evokes Christian parables of penitence—but these, like the old oral traditions that the title calls on, are in the service of a wondrous theme: that no matter what authority is vested in a king, it takes a village to raise a full-grown human being.

Are you going to see our production of A Winter’s Tale?  Do you have questions or comments about the production’s cast, themes, creative choices, or anything else? Please leave them in the comments, and I’ll be sure to respond.


Season Artist Profile: Paloma McGregor

In the months leading up to the start of our 2013 Main Stage season, I am once again profiling the creative minds behind our productions. The final installment of the 2013 Season Artist Profile series introduces you to choreographer Paloma McGregor, whose movement work on last summer’s Spunk helped make it one of the liveliest productions in our nearly-40-year history. This season, she again teams up with her sister, director Patricia McGregor, for our production of A Winter’s Tale.

What follows is the full transcript of my email interview with Paloma. To sign up for our email newsletter, click here.

Stefanie Kalem: What are your most recent, current, and upcoming projects?

Paloma McGregor; photo courtesy of Angela's Pulse.

Paloma McGregor; photo courtesy of Angela's Pulse.

Paloma McGregor: I rounded out last year with two exciting projects: 

In September, I directed a devised performance work about food systems at UC Berkeley, developed during a five-week residency with three dozen participants from across the Bay Area. In October, I was invited to show a work-in-progress development of my latest Angela’s Pulse project, Building a Better Fishtrap, at St. Mark’s Church as part of Danspace Project’s DraftWork series. Fishtrap, based on my father’s fishing stories and my memory of building a small fishtrap as a child, is a performance work that explores water, memory, and home, as well as examines what we take with us, leave behind, and reclaim. I have been developing the piece for more than a year. In December, with support from the Jerome Foundation, I traveled home to St. Croix to do more research for the project, including spending two weeks as a fisherman’s apprentice. I will continue developing the work this year, involving Patricia in the text development and dramaturgy, and plan to premiere the work in the 2014–15 season.

Also this year, Patricia and I are excited to spend time in June, July, and August at the Williamstown Theatre Festival, developing a new musical together (our latest Angela’s Pulse endeavor). The piece is based on the Loving v. Virginia Supreme Court case on mixed-race marriage. At a time when marriage rights are once again at a historical crossroads, we will revisit this political precedent, and the young black woman and white man who had to choose a quiet life apart or the fight of their lives.

I joined NYU’s Hemispheric Institute of Performance and Politics as a yearlong Artist in Residence, researching embodied memory, agency, and cultural reclamation.

And…I’m still dancing, collaborating as a performer two works that premiere this Spring: How to Lose a Mountain, choreographed by Cassie Meador, artistic director of Dance Exchange, and last days/first field, choreographed by Jill Sigman. 

SK: Had you any experience with designing movement for an outdoor stage before Spunk? How was Spunk/Cal Shakes different? What were the challenges or advantages specific to choreographing for our stage?

IndomitablePM: I grew up in a culture of public performance. In St. Croix, formal parades and informal “tramps” at Carnival time are an integral part of community life. My first major performance as a child dancer was in an outdoor theater, Island Center, the same stage that Alvin Ailey and Dance Theatre of Harlem performed on. Two summers ago, I brought those experiences to my work as choreographer for Indomitable: James Brown, a show Patricia directed for SummerStages in New York. The show involved—among other things—a soul train line that the audience could join. With Cal Shakes, I was able to build on these experiences with the added gift of time: I had weeks to work in the actual performance space, during which I could consider the setting, stage, scenic design, lighting, and costumes in my movement development.

SK: What’s your experience with Shakespeare—watching it, working with it—in general, and A Winter’s Tale in specific?

PM: My first introduction to Shakespeare was the witches’ chant from Macbeth—”Double, double toil and trouble; Fire burn, and cauldron bubble.”—which I used to recite when I was maybe 5 or 6, as though it were a nursery rhyme! Later, in high school, King Lear drew me in with its tragic reflections of love, justice, and betrayal. I saw A Winter’s Tale at Shakespeare in the Park a few years ago, and delighted in its magic and wit.

SK: What can you tell me about your thinking about the Cal Shakes production this early in the game? What role will movement play in the story? What other early thoughts can you share?

Aldo Billingslea, Omoze Idehenre, and Tyee Tilghman in Cal Shakes’ SPUNK; photo by Kevin Berne.

Aldo Billingslea, Omoze Idehenre, and Tyee Tilghman in Cal Shakes’ SPUNK; photo by Kevin Berne.

PM: I often say that characters reveal themselves in their bodies first, before they ever say a word. I am excited to develop and differentiate the two worlds of this piece—Sicilia and Bohemia—by distinguishing the ways their people walk, stand, sit, revel, fume … and dance.

SK: I understand you were a journalist for a time. What kind of writing did you do? I’m thinking of that famous quote (attributed to everyone from Martin Mull to Thelonious Monk to Laurie Anderson) that says “writing about music is like dancing about architecture”—but is there any way that journalism and dancing intersect? The skills you use, the perspective you need? Or do they engage completely different parts of your brain and body?

PM: I like to think of the brain as just another important part of the body. So being a dancer allows me to use my full body to hone the skills I practiced as a journalist: listening deeply and to everything, obsessing over details, noticing subtle shifts, adjusting to what the circumstances require, being efficient and creative, thinking and acting fast, and synthesizing multiple layers of information to make a legible statement. Good storytelling, whether in the body or on the page, necessitates patience, persistence, and grace.

SK: What was the first piece of dance or performing arts that you saw that inspired you to think, “I want to be a part of that”?

Ethel Merman in Annie Get Your Gun

Ethel Merman in Annie Get Your Gun.

PM: As a young child in St. Croix, I saw Alvin Ailey perform. After the show, I took my autograph book back to have the dancers sign it. They were all so beautiful and kind, and I knew one day I wanted to be like them. Every time I sign a program for a child now, I think of that moment.

My first memory of going to see theater was Annie Get Your Gun, probably when I was 6 or 7. The lead character was so dynamic, funny, and brave, and I believe she shaped some of my early notions of what a strong, sassy woman was capable of—ideas that stick with me today. I remember that show when I think about the impact I want my work to have.

SK: What or who inspires you right now? Any particular writers, music, current events, people, et cetera?

PM: My mom and sister are always an inspiration when I think about working with purpose, integrity and compassion. My current project is tangling with objects and sites as containers of memory, so visual artists are inspiring me a great deal, particularly Theaster Gates and El Anatsui. The slow, powerful work that’s happening around developing, supporting, and perpetuating sustainable environmental practices inspires me each day.

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