The First Folio was the first printed collection of Shakespeare’s works put together by two of his friends and fellow actors several years after Shakespeare’s death. A “olio is a large book made by folding a sheet of paper in half to form four pages. Other books at the time were made by folding a sheet of a paper twice to form eight pages, meaning that a folio was a much sturdier book and was normally reserved for lengthy books on history or religion, making Shakespeare’s folio the exception. (1).
The play is set in Sicilia and Bohemia. The play and the unique history of Bohemia gives us an interesting clue as to what Shakespeare may have known about the country, or it may have been simply a product of his imagination. For a majority of Bohemia’s history, it was landlocked, but in the course of the play, Polixenes, takes a ship from Sicilia back to Bohemia. Antigonus also gets to Bohemia by way of ship, and the Clown watches a shipwreck from the shore. This points to a short window in the late 13th century where the Kingdom of Bohemia stretched through the modern-day Czech Republic to the Adriatic Sea. (2)
Shakespeare provided the English language with quite a few new words throughout his plays. You can thank him for “uncomfortable,” “bedazzled,” and “fashionable.” (3) The Winter’s Tale debuted “unearthly.” But not every word from Shakespeare’s time can have the same staying power; adapting Shakespeare’s plays involve a lot of decisions about what words to keep and what words just aren’t clear enough to modern audiences. These words appear in the original The Winter’s Tale but have been exchanged for a synonym for this production:
“Dam” became “mother”
“Moiety” became “portion”
“Fardel” became “bundle”