Dance of the Satyrs

Dance of the Satyrs

Themes of renewal and rebirth stir the senses in The Winter’s Tale, especially in Bohemia in the second act.

During a springtime sheep-shearing festival, 12 herdsman who “have made themselves all men of hair” arrive to entertain the villagers with a fertility ritual dance.

Master, there is three carters,
three shepherds, three neatherds [cowherders], three swineherds,
that have made themselves all men of hair.
They call themselves saultiers [satyrs], and they have a
dance which the wenches say is a gallimaufry of
gambols, because they are not in ’t, but they themselves
are o’ th’ mind, if it be not too rough for
some that know little but bowling, it will please

Shakespeare’s play reminds us that mankind is bound to the perpetual and primal cycle of nature.

His “saultiers” are not exactly the satyrs of Greek mythology, those lustful and drunken horned half-goat, half-men who are woodland companions of Dionysus. Nevertheless, they share many attributes as they arrive to ensure there will be joy, hope, and titillation at the seasonal festivities.

By the way, if you imagine such mythological creatures of the mountains and woods to be extinct in the era of Facebook and Instagram, you would be incorrect.

Photographer Charles Fréger, of Rouen, France, documents European “wild man” traditions and rituals that endure to this day. Some signify the transition or death of the winter season. Others mark awakenings of new life in the spring and bestow fertility.

Check out Fréger’s online portfolio here.

Escape to Bohemia! Come see The Winter’s Tale at Chesapeake Shakespeare Company, March 9 – April 7, 2018.

CREDITS: Our cast’s satyrs are wearing masks and costumes created by Isabelle Anderson and Jess Rassp. The play’s costume designer is Heather C. Jackson and properties designer is Mollie Singer. The dance is choreographed by Nellie K. Glover. IMAGES:  James Jager and Brendan Edward Kennedy as satyrs in The Winter’s Tale. Photos by Isabelle Anderson and Jean Thompson.


TICKET DETAILS:  THE WINTER’S TALE, March 9 – April 7, 2018, at Chesapeake Shakespeare Company.


SYNOPSIS of THE WINTER’S TALE:  Be forewarned. Plot twists and spoilers are included.

IF THIS BE MAGIC:  A Note from Director Isabelle Anderson