The 12 Plays of Christmas – Day 8 – Pericles, the Prince of Tyre

Welcome to Day 8 and 2018!  Yay!  Today brings us to one of my favourite Shakespearean plays – “Pericles; The Prince of Tyre”.  Over the last few years I have become obsessed with trying to win this award for the most unusual choice of play, which has led to me reading a number of unusual Shakespearean texts.  “Pericles; The Prince of Tyre” has it all, pirates, intrigue, shipwreck, interesting women… you name it.  Day 8 of the 12 Days of Christmas is for Mary, mother of Jesus.  Shakespeare is known for his lack of mothers… so this play is a perfect choice.

At the outset we find Pericles in a conundrum – he has to answer the riddle of a King to survive, however the answer involves saying that the King is in an incestuous relationship with his daughter (which he is). So he escapes by sea.  He meets Thaisa and marries, and ends up at sea with his pregnant wife when a storm strikes.  He is urged to throw the woman overboard, who by the way has just given birth to a daughter, and she needs to go also.  He does.  Then the story ends up in three parts, Pericles on his journey, Thaisa on hers, and Mariana on her own.  Thaisa ends up in the temple of Diane, Mariana grows up and eventually works in a brothel.  Eventually Pericles finds his daughter, which is a beautiful moment.  Diane promises to return Thaisa to him if he confesses his actions, which he does, and she is restored.  The reunion between mother and daughter is one of the most beautiful moments in Shakespeare.

It is a difficult play to produce… but I recommend going stylish.  The shipwreck is a fun thing to interpret, and more interesting than that in “The Tempest”.  The ending is beautiful, so I totally recommend that section.  Please feel free to watch our interpretation here, which won 2 major national awards in 2017.  We interpreted it in a colonial New Zealand way, with te reo Maori for the goddess.


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