Shakesplaining

Explaining Shakespeare one podcast at a time

A podcast about Shakespeare performances in Boston.

Episode 23 - Winter's Tale in DC

 Photo of the stage at the Folger

Photo of the stage at the Folger

I went to Washington DC and visited the Folger Shakespeare Library on Shakespeare's birthday and while I was there caught a production of The Winter's Tale with my friend Ed. 

In the episode we discuss if actual bears might have been used for the famous stage direction "Exit, pursued by a bear." There's a tumblr thread that covers the basics, but....it's a tumblr thread and I wanted to go a bit deeper. Turns out, the primary evidence for this is a 2001 article by a scholar named Teresa Grant (GRANT, TERESA. (2001). White bears in Mucedorus, the Winter's Tale, and Oberon, the Fairy Prince. Notes and Queries. 48. 10.1093/nq/48.3.311-b.). I wasn't able to get ahold of this article BUT Grant weighed in on a minor flame war in the London Review of Books which you can read online here: https://www.lrb.co.uk/v26/n23/anne-barton/wholly-given-over-to-thee. Basically, another scholar wrote a book about Elizabethan Romances, got reviewed and was criticized fore her bear-skepticism. She responded with the anti-bear argument and then Teresa Grant added her two cents. Unfortunately, I'm not convinced the bears were used in this play, but it sounds like bears were a meme to 1610 Londoners and they were willing to accept them popping up wherever. 

Here also is the Washington Post review I mention in the episode.