10-episode production of a Shakespeare ‘problem play’ begins Thursday

A scene from Episode 9 of O! Digital Stage's 10-episode production "The Cymbeline Project."
November 1, 2022

‘The Cymbeline Project’ starts streaming Nov. 3 on O! Digital Stage 

By Lee Juillerat for Ashland.news

Cymbeline” is one of William Shakespeare’s rarely produced plays. Although listed as a tragedy, critics have sometimes considered it a romance or comedy. The play, which deals with the theme of innocence and jealousy, and additional themes as power and gender, was last performed at Oregon Shakespeare Festival in 2013.

OSF is terming the upcoming streaming production as “The Cymbeline Project,” conceived by OSF Artistic Director Nataki Garrett and created by Associate Artistic Director and Director of Innovation and Strategy and multi-hyphenate artist Scarlett Kim. “The Cymbeline Project” will be presented in 10 digital episodes, each led by what OSF describes as “an iconoclastic slate of lead artists, whose practices range in form from collage to puppetry to (virtual reality).”

A scene from Episode 6 of O! Digital Stage’s 10-episode production “The Cymbeline Project.”

The project was created during in the pandemic and was filmed remotely from performers’ homes across the country using individual green screen studios, a technological feat that is the Festival’s “largest original release on the O! Digital Stage to date,” according to the OSF announcement. “The project exemplifies how OSF continually invites artists to invent approaches to the Bard, and how to use technology to forge new genres and employ meaningful innovation in creating art and connecting with audiences.” 

A scene from Episode 4 of O! Digital Stage’s 10-episode production “The Cymbeline Project.”

“As I read ‘Cymbeline,’ it struck me as episodic because the story was filled with cliffhangers. This gave me the idea of presenting the story as an episodic series, with each episode ending in suspense,” Garrett said of how she conceived presenting the play in episodes. “I had the vision, but I didn’t know what that would look like. Through ‘The Cymbeline Project,’ Scarlett Kim brought this vision to a place of unsurpassed imagination and creativity.” 

According to Garrett, “Kim’s approach to the project is both deeply Shakespearean in its rigorous investigation of the text and also treading new ground in how Shakespeare is done. With only a few trims to Shakespeare’s original text, each episode is created in collaboration with guest artists hailing from diverse disciplines and mediums, engaging a unique form of immersive technology — VR film, interactive text game, pop-up book puppetry, hand-drawn animation, and more.

A scene from Episode 2 of O! Digital Stage’s 10-episode production “The Cymbeline Project.”

“In the spirit of bridging classic and contemporary, the project includes longtime OSF artists as well as fresh voices across industries.”

Lead artists include Tara AhmadinejadChicago Puppet Studio (Myra Su & Jaerin Son), Monty Cole, Nataki GarrettDiana Ohruth tang, and Eric Ting.

“’The Cymbeline Project’ called to action artists hailing from a myriad of artistic mediums and from across the globe to imagine Shakespeare into the future,” Kim said. “We invite you to adventure into the universe of ‘The Cymbeline Project,’ where you will encounter familiar faces in surprising digital landscapes, traverse through exquisitely hand-crafted collage worlds, and rediscover yourself in this timeless and timely tragicomedy.”

Along with Kim, the creative team includes production designer Alexander Grover, composer/sound designer T. Carlis Roberts, costume designer X. Hill, creative technologist Sangmin Chae, dramaturgs Paul Adolphsen and Raphael Massie, associate designer Melissa Torchia, and director of Artistic Sign Language Monique “MoMo” Holt. The post-production team included video editors Micah J. Steiglitz, Scarlett Kim, Alexander Grover, and Tommy Statler; colorist Jacqueline Chan, and episode specific collaborators: Theo Her, Nicholas Hussong and Jamie Goodwin, and Hana Kim.

A scene from Episode 7 of O! Digital Stage’s 10-episode production “The Cymbeline Project.”

The OSF Innovation and Strategy team leads the hybrid production process that draws from both theater and film production practices: Liz Lanier, Mei Ann Teo, and Ken Savage as a collaborative team of producers, led by Scarlett Kim as the lead producer, and Josh Horvath as production manager, joined by project managers and coordinators Roxana Kahn, Jordan E. Moore, Dani Bae, and Patrick Mahoney. A team of ASL interpreters, Stephanie Feyne, Janice Evans, and Amanda Welly, are core collaborators in the creative team.

“Our delight in being in collaboration with Shakespeare stems from gathering around known text that then, through the artist’s vision, grabs us viscerally through time and space and propels us forward,” said Mei Ann Teo, Associate Artistic Director and Director of New Work. “The Cymbeline Project’s rigorous adherence to Shakespeare’s text and expansive approach to form is a truly phenomenal example of artistic innovation leading evolution.”

Filming took place in cast members’ homes across eight cities, including Ashland, and spanned both U.S. coasts. The cast includes actors seen on OSF live stages: Caro Zeller as Imogen, James Ryen as Posthumus, Tyrone Wilson as Cymbeline, Monique “MoMo” Holt as the Queen, Jessica Ko as Pisanio, Shyla Lefner as Iachimo, Stephen Michael Spencer as Cloten, Rachel Crowl as Belarius, Lauren Modica as Arviragus, Carolina Vargas Romero as Guiderius, Erika Rose as Caius Lucius/Jupiter/Jailer, Daniel T. Parker as Cloten’s Lords/Ensemble, and Cristofer Jean as Cornelius/Philario/Soothsayer/Ensemble. 

Streaming begins Thursday, Nov. 3 on O! Digital Stage. Episodes will be available for viewing online, with a collection of episodes being released each Thursday. Episodes 1-3 will be released Nov. 3, with episodes 4-6 beginning November 10, episodes 7-8 available Nov. 17, and episodes 9-10 starting Dec. 2.

On-demand viewing of the entire series will be available throughout December. Tickets, $15, are available at this site.

Email freelance writer Lee Juillerat at 337lee337@charter.net.

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