Pericles, Prince of Tyre
. . . AKA No Holds Bard: The Pericles Project
In 2020 Optimist Theatre's Shakespeare in the Park, like all other theatres, had to cancel its live, in-person performances.
Determined to still bring our loyal audiences a show, and to keep our cast and production team working, we decided to do something new--and the No Holds Bard project was born.
We pivoted to a filmed web series of Pericles, Prince of Tyre, featuring a diverse cast and safe, socially-distanced, outdoor film shoots, some animation and puppets!
The play was broken into 16 - 6 to 9 minute segments or "episodes" with 2 airing every other Wednesday through a live hosted event on Facebook and YouTube. Please enjoy all 16 here as well as on the No Holds Bard YouTube channel where you will also find interviews, Pericles Around Milwaukee shorts, and more.
If you're interested in knowing more about the making of Pericles please don't hesitate to contact Susan Fry.
Episode 1: To Seek a Princess and Find an Assassin
Pericles comes before Antiochus to try solving a riddle, on pain of death, to gain Antiochus' daughter in marriage. Pericles discovers that the answer to the riddle is disturbing and it takes all of his guile to escape the clutches of the king determined to keep his sordid secret at all costs.
Episode 2: To Flee or Not to Flee
As we witnessed to our horror last episode, Antiochus has engaged Thaliard, the assassin. His job - to kill our hero, Pericles. Why? Because Antiochus composed a riddle that was so lamely easy to decipher the insidious and icky meaning. We flee with Pericles to his home kingdom of Tyre. There, our hero laments his grave predicament to his trusted, elderly (no offense, Deb) advisor Helicanus, who counsels Pericles to run. Pericles agrees, leaves Helicanus in charge and sets sail to Tarsus – and not a moment too soon! Hot on Pericles’ heels, Thaliard arrives in Tyre with cold steel in his scabbard, hot gold in his pocket, and looking to scam his way into the castle.
Episode 3: Tired of Tyre, A Terrified Trek to Tarsus
Sneaky assassin Thaliard listens in to Helicanus and the Lords, discovers that Pericles has fled, and presents himself as a friendly visitor. They invite him to hang out and party.
Utterly despairing, Governor Cleon and Dionyza (the real power here) are in dire straits. Yes, their people are starving and their economy is in ruins, but the most dastardly thing is that she has to wear last season’s Manolos...
Wait! Here comes Pericles with a boat load of supplies, but will that boat stay afloat? Gower warns of ruin ahead and shares shocking news about Antiochus and the assassin Thaliard. Someone won’t survive this episode!
Tune in for the twists and turns in Tyre and Tarsus!
Episode 4: Friendly Fishermen Find Forlorn Pfericles
Philosophers or fishermen? The scales drop from Pericles’ eyes as these noble-of-heart laborers-of-the-seas lend aid, comfort, and the inside scoop on the festivities in town. Seems King Simonides is having a debutante party to present his daughter Thaisa to suitors for marriage. (It’s a thing.) Pericles, obviously having forgotten that that didn’t work out so well for him in episode 1, decides to give it a go. Bonus: He just happens to find his father’s old armor tangled up in one of the fisherman’s nets! What are the odds…?
Episode 5: Party in Pentapolis!
Is this my father’s armor I see before me? Rusty and covered in muck? That is totally the way to a Princess’ heart – or so Pericles believes as he begs the wearing of it and directions to the court of King Simonides. Our good prince thrusts himself into the competition vying for Thaisa’s favor. Ah, Pericles! You sly devil! Way to stand out in your old dirty clothes and shining manner. Those dancy, prancy knights have nothing on our stalwart hero – just ask the soon to be starry-eyed Thaisa.
Episode 6: Passion in Pentapolis and Trying Times in Tyre
Simonides likes Pericles. Thaisa likes Pericles. Lychorida is going to make sure that Thaisa doesn’t like Pericles too much. Poor Thaisa, though. She’s a goner when our hero struts his tail feathers. Time goes on.
Back in Tyre, Helicanus spills the beans over a cozy cuppa and explains to Escanes that Pericles had to beat feet because Antiochus – remember his icky highness from episode 1? – realized that Pericles had discovered his dirty little incestuous secret and so he sent an assassin to kill Pericles. The Lords of Tyre think Helicanus is doing a bang up job ruling in Pericles’ absence and urge her to accept the official title of ruler. Stall, Helicanus, stall for time!
Episode 7: Bad Stuff, Bad Stuff, Bad Stuff, and a Wedding.
After Simonides indulges in good-natured cat-and-mousing hijinx, Thaisa and Pericles are married. 9 months later, word arrives – as sung by Gower - that Antiochus is dead (huzzah!), Pericles can return home to Tyre (huzzah!) and foretells of a shipwreck (huz… wait a minute!) that may once again fling Pericles – plus the addition of wife and child – afloat in a cold, cold world.
Episode 8: Just When You Thought it was Safe to Go into the Water
Our hero’s ship is tossed by the storm and Thaisa, dead from childbirth, is tossed overboard. Realizing they are again near Tarsus, Pericles aims his storm-and-grief-wracked vessel toward refuge. Poor Thaisa’s coffin floats its way to Ephesus, is found by Ephesians and is lugged into the town of (you guessed it) Ephesus where Ephesian doctor Cerimon discovers a case of premature coffining.
Episode 9: Might as Well Face it, You’re Addicted to Tragedy.
Thaisa lives! And assumes her hubby and baby are dead so does what any woman would do: hies herself to a nunnery to live out her days in silent grief and prayer. Not to be outdone in the ‘chuck your life down the toilet and ensure your perpetual grief’ competition, Pericles leaves baby Marina in the hands of Dionyza - aka Mother of the Year - to raise. Insert magic time speeding by music sung by Gower who tells us of Marina growing up to become a kind, smart, sensitive, innocent, earnest, talented young lady. As if that weren’t enough, she’s also pretty so Dionyza sends Leonine to murder her.
Episode 10: Marina and Killers and Pirates, Oh My!
Fast forward 16 years. Marina has grown into an accomplished and beautiful young woman. Dionyza is winner of the evil-envious-conniving guardian of the year award and has decided to end her martyred misery by ending her. Leonine is conscripted to take Marina for a long walk off a short pier where she is instead kidnapped by pirates intent on selling her to the highest brothel bidder. I kid you not.
Episode 11: Mere Puppets in Her Hands
Pandar, Bawd and Boult are shopping for fresh lovelies for their gentlemen clientele and are overjoyed with their big-time brothel bargain by buying Marina from those repellent pirates. Little do they know (but soon they will discover) that our heroine is too smart and virtuous for the likes of these rapscallions.
Episode 12: Get up, stand up! Stand up for your rights!
Poor, poor Pandar, Bawd and Boult! Marina seemed like such a great purchase but guess again. You can take the girl out of the clutches of pirates but you can’t dim her light of goodness and purity. That poor brothel will never be the same as Marina spreads enlightenment to the ladies who work there and the gents who will never visit again.
Episode 13: Marina’s Super Power
Step back! She may look all innocent and naïve but Marina has a backbone of steel and knows good from bad and up from down and right from wrong. Poor Lysimachus. Boys will be boys? Hah! Poor Boult. Women should be used and not heard? Hah! Marina opens their eyes to how honorable gentlemen should behave. As Lysimachus and Boult ponder their newfound respect, Marina starts teaching all the ladies of the evening a lesson or two.
Episode 14: You Look Oddly Familiar
Lysimachus, thoroughly reformed by and smitten with Marina, seeks out Pericles only to find him a shell of his former self. Beaten down over years of grief and loss, all our hero can do is lounge about in a catatonic state aboard his richly appointed yacht. Thinking the miraculous life-changing influence of Marina’s super power may be of aid, he brings them together. Are you holding your breath to see what happens? We are!
Episode 15: Misery Loves Company
Our beautiful and brilliant heroine Marina is magically making headway with getting into King Pericles headspace. Her sage advice and tough love starts to sink in and stir him to life and purpose and ... hey! You look familiar! What a funny coincidence. Hahaha... just like my dead wife...?!
Episode 16: What She Said
Under the divine guidance of the goddess Diana, Pericles, giddily reunited with his daughter Marina, hightails it to Ephesus for a big surprise. Hahaha... what a funny coincidence. Hahaha... that nun looks just like my dead wife...?! WHAT!!!! Are we all about to live happily ever after?
Press Release : Announcing No Holds Bard - The Pericles Project