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Presenting Pericles

Tuesday 13 March 2018

Cheek by Jowl director Declan Donnellan tells us about the company’s forthcoming production of Périclès, Prince de Tyr.

‘Why are we doing Shakespeare in French for the first time? One simple reason is that we love working with our French ensemble and Pericles fits the actors we have and want to work with – the nucleus of which we have been working with for over 10 years.

‘But also we love the play.

‘Pericles is often seen as part of a quartet with Cymbeline, The Winter’s Tale and The Tempest. It moves from the wild, the random, the arbitrary, into something else – a sense of order and a subtle realisation that there may just perhaps be an order that comes from the chaos. There’s something very vital, very humane and very hopeful about that structure. At one moment everything seems to be random and going in such strange ways, and then after a while you realise that everything isn’t quite as random as you thought. This play asks that very quietly is there just chaos or is there a mystery?

‘Shakespeare never uses a sledgehammer. In Pericles he suggests that perhaps we are being looked after – and that things will be OK. Sometimes we may feel we’re fleeing constantly, trying to escape our fears – but we don’t realise that sometimes when we are escaping, we’re also arriving somewhere new, perhaps somewhere more positive despite our best efforts to the contrary. It’s about coming home – and about how coming home can sometimes be quite painful. In other hands this might seem naive or sentimental. But it never seems like that with Shakespeare.’

Pericles (Périclès, Prince de Tyr) is performed 6–21 Apr in Silk Street Theatre. You can watch a live stream of the show on Thursday 19 April at 7.30pm on our website.

Photo: Patrick Baldwin. Originally published in the April Guide.