The Arts News

The Canterbury Tales

A Medieval Classic for the 21st Century

Posted on February 15, 2016 by Scot Allen

Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays
February 5 to 14, 2016

Please click here to view a photo gallery of the show.

$10 Adults
$5 Non-Mid-Pacific Students, Seniors and Military
$3 Mid-Pacific Students, Faculty and Staff

"Kudos to John Wat for his work with our students on this thoroughly modern take on a 14th century masterpiece," High School Principal Tom McManus said. "It's a hilarious, ensemble-driven event. I really enjoyed the character and physical work of the actors, making the text come to life in a new way. Congratulations to the cast and crew!"

The Canterbury Tales, a Medieval Classic for the Twenty-first Century.

When Geoffrey Chaucer died in 1400, he left his great masterwork unfinished. What is available today is a collection of more than twenty stories written in a variety of styles that match the individual characters of the storytellers and unified by their collective pilgrimage to the shrine of St. Thomas à Beckett at Canterbury. Chaucer wrote in Middle English, the rich creole language that developed in Britain after the Norman Conquest and the mix of Norman French and Anglo-Saxon Old English. Later after the "Great Vowel Shift" this Middle English evolves into the Modern English of Shakespeare. Yes, Shakespeare is Modern English. The Mid-Pacific production gives the audience a little taste of Chaucer's English in the opening prologue.

Chaucer's work is immense, almost five hundred pages of text, so the production presents six of the tales. The production begins with the general prologue followed by the Knight's Tale, a proper, moral tale of chivalry, destiny and love. But this noble tale is quickly followed by the somewhat mean spirited, raunchy and very funny tale told by the drunken Miller. Other stories included are: The Reeves Tale, The Nun's Priest's Tale, The Summoner's Tale and The Wife of Bath's Tale.

This staging in the 21st century highlights the fact that human nature has not changed much in the more than 600 years since Chaucer wrote. The character of the ebullient Wife of Bath, for example, has been embraced by some contemporary scholars as a proto-feminist but she also might seem right at home on one of the "Real Housewives" shows on TV.

Performances February 4-14, Fridays and Saturdays at 7:30 pm, Sundays at 2 pm in the Kawaiahao Recital Hall on the Mid-Pacific Campus. The running time for the show is approximately 1 hour and 45 minutes with one intermission. Rated PG for some adult themes. Phone 973-5066 for tickets and information.