A circus-themed version of Shakespeare's THE WINTER'S TALE is performing at the ADC Theatre next week. We spoke to the show's Assistant Directors, LUCIA BOWERS and ALEX KIY, to find out what to expect.

What should an audience expect from The Winter’s Tale?

Lucia: The audience should expect Shakespeare in a way that’s full to the brim with vibrancy, playfulness and excitement. We want to breathe life into the text by decentring it from typical expectations and boundaries of Shakespeare, using the circus as a means to shift it away from the original context audiences may have seen before. While there are some deeply moving scenes in the play, audiences should come hoping for an entertaining night at the theatre and leave having seen something true to Shakespeare yet also befitting our ambitious circus aesthetic.

In your production you have chosen to use the circus as a setting. How has this informed your approach to the show?

Lucia: From a directing perspective, the circus setting has given us the opportunity to be really playful with the text and staging. For example, the character of Clown can be played up to be a literal clown and there should be some amazing dance sequences. I think it’s also allowed us to find more light in what can sometimes be one of Shakespeare’s uncomfortable comedies, given we’ve been able to have so much fun with our world building and character development. For our techies, it’s given them such free rein to be eccentrically creative and outlandish in their ideas (and to slightly stress out ADC management with how much we’re pushing the boundaries of health and safety).

How have rehearsals been coming along?

Alex: Rehearsals have been wonderful—working with a cast of such colourful characters (on and offstage) makes every day its own unique experience. We’ve approached it from the ground up and every decision made has been the result of lots of conversation and questioning. The nature of Shakespeare is that it is so various; there’s been so much discussion to get at the heart of what we want our version to look like. Conceptualising and creating the play has been a very collaborative process and everyone has their say. It feels very rewarding to watch the play find its feet knowing that it’s been such a labour of love and care from all involved.

Without spoiling too much, what is your favourite part of the show?

Alex: I think a lot of people overlook how funny The Winter’s Tale can be! There is definitely space for more heavy and hard-hitting scenes but there are also so many moments of comedy alongside them—joy as well as fear or anger. I feel like I spend half of rehearsal just laughing sometimes.

The Winter's Tale is performing at the ADC Theatre between Tuesday 22 and Saturday 26 February