Children act as chorus in very adult 'Winter's Tale' in Clark Park

The annual performance of Shakespeare in West Philadelphia's Clark Park opens Wednesday with "The Winter's Tale." The dark, psychological drama will be performed with a chorus of local children.

"The Winter's Tale" is an unusual Shakespeare play; two-thirds of it is tragedy, then it wraps up almost like a comedy. The tragic parts are gruesome -- with violent jealousy, a man throwing his wife in jail and condemning his newborn daughter to be killed by fire.

"This is a family drama," said director Kittson O'Neill. "The people in our world who witness and suffer the most from family dramas are children. I wanted a chorus of kids to witness the play and add flavor to it."

Twenty-five children, ages 5 to 13, form the chorus. It's more of a classic Greek chorus -- a collective witnessing the action -- than a singing chorus, although it does occasionally perform musically. The kids also form pieces of the set (ocean waves) and function as basic scene transition distraction...