Founded in 1974, People's Light is one of Pennsylvania's largest professional nonprofit theaters and is known for its resident company of artists, eclectic mix of productions, and innovative work with young people. The company produces a mix of world premieres, contemporary plays, and fresh approaches to classic texts. Its initiatives include the New Play Frontiers Residency and Commission program to support the development of new work.
People's Light & Theatre Company mounted a fast-paced and highly physical production of Shakespeare's The Winter's Tale. Scottish director Guy Hollands of Glasgow's Citizen's Theatre and the National Theatre of Scotland led a multi-ethnic cast of 13 performers. An outdoor festival featuring fire, lanterns, hot cider, fiddle playing, and a "bear" welcomed audience members to the People's Light campus. Juggling ensemble members greeted patrons and performed a dance on an outdoor stage, introducing the audience to the spirit of the "traveling troupe" that formed the backstory of the production.
While staying true to the play's themes of betrayal and redemption, Hollands sought to connect the ideas and energy of teenaged members of the ensemble to the talents and skills of the company's adult artists. Music Director Michael John McCarthy, an Irish composer, created an original score from a mix of Celtic songs, tunes inspired by the music of Tom Waits, and Shakespearean text set to melodies. Period dances were interpreted for the production by choreographer Samantha Bellomo. The final production was popular with young audiences, with more than half of the attendees under 17 years of age.