At last we have sunshine! The hedgerows are lush with hawthorn blossom, primroses and bluebells, thanks to the late spring. To tie in with the ongoing exhibition at Anne Hathaways’ Cottage; Say it with Flowers, May’s Picture of the Month is an image from The Winter’s Tale, which shows Perdita giving “Hot lavender , mints, savory, marjoram, The Marigold that goes to bed wi’ the sun” (Act 4 Scene 4) to Polixenes and Camillo. According to the symbolism of flowers in the Elizabethan period, herbs were divided into “hot” and “cold” varieties, based on their supposed qualities. Perdita offered “hot” flowers to these two “men of middle age”, perhaps as a restorative tincture.
The image is from the 1960 production of The Winter’s Tale performed at the Shakespeare Memorial Theatre. Directed by Peter Wood and with music by Lennox Berkeley, the production was staged as the last in a chronological sequence of Shakespeare’s comedies which launched the Royal Shakespeare Company. Eric Porter played Leontes, Elisabeth Sellars Hermione and Susan Maryott Perdita, whilst Peggy Ashcroft was Paulina and a young Dennis Waterman played Mamillius. It was a highly regarded production conjuring up a “mythical Renaissance, a world in which anything could happen and anything did”. (Robert Speight; The 1960 Season at Stratford–upon-Avon, Shakespeare Quarterly 11 (1960).
This image is one of the earlier colour slides we in our Photographic Collections. It was taken by Tom Holte, a local photographer who took many production shots for the theatre as well as local scenes in the town. His studio was in Greenhill Street and from the 1970’s he worked with his daughter, Mig Holte.