‘Exit pursued by a bear’

  • R. P. Draper
Part of the Text and Performance book series (TEPE)


In all productions of The Winter’s Tale there are certain scenes and incidents that create special problems for the director. The best known, or most notorious, of these is the stage direction in iii iii, ‘Exit, pursued by a bear’ The sight of a bear (known, of course, to be an ‘extra’ in a bearskin) lolloping over the stage in pursuit of Antigonus will always strike some members of the audience as comic; and, though I have argued in Part One of this book that such laughter is not inimical to the desired dramatic effect of transition from tragedy to comedy, most modern directors have not cared to risk an effect of outright farce. Consequently they have tended towards symbolic rather than realistic bears.

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© R. P. Draper 1985

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  • R. P. Draper

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