Productions of the tempest

The globe, 2013, roger Allam Roger allam gave a profoundly paternalistic performance of Prospero. Struggling to let Miranda go
Paris, 1983, Giorgio strehler This director played Caliban as a black slave resentful of Prospero’s colonisation
Royal Shakespeare theatre, 2016, Simon Russel Beale – Caliban presented, surprisingly as less human and more beast/ monster – Prospero visably trembles on stage – we really see him aging – biggest point about the play was its use of digital technology- critics have commented in Beale’s exceptional talent to display Prospero’s ‘private guilt’
1982, Ron Daniels Derek Jacobi presented a vital and thrilling Prospero, who was only just on the brink of middle age.In this version of The Tempest, Prospero – played by Derek Jacobi – was caught in an anguished internal struggle with his emotions, motives and desires. He was not fully in control of himself, let alone the action of the play.
1993, Sam Mendes Beale played aerial in this production. Ariel was the dominant force in director Sam Mendes’ interpretation of the play.Ariel initiated the storm by climbing out of the large theatrical straw skip at the rear of the stage and setting the hurricane lamp, hanging above him, wildly swinging. He spoke and moved slowly and deliberately, maintaining a cold hauteur in all his dealings. There was still an audible gasp from the audience when, in response to Prospero’s affectionate words of farewell, he spat in his face. He then stalked away to the back wall of the set and opened a hitherto undetectable door through which he passed to freedom.Alec McCowen’s gentle, school-teacherly Prospero was threatened not only by this unyielding spirit but also by an unusually rebellious Miranda and a terrifyingly muscular and sharp-taloned Caliban
2006, Rupert Gould Caliban, being played by John Light, was shown in shackles
1992, royal exchange (Manchester), Braham Murray The tempest storm scene was played out in Prospero’s study, with Prospero seated at his desk throughout. The study remains the permanent set of the play, reflecting Prospero’s chosen isolation in the library in Milan and his forced imprisonment on the island
Arial as a man or woman? – played by a man in the 17th century but from 18th century up to 1930 arial was always played by a woman- in a 1930 production at the old vic, harcourt Williams broke tradition and cast a man as arial
1940, old vic, Marius goring Arial in this production was seen as remote… alien in characterisation and indifferent to human affairs. Arial longed only for freedom
2010, Helen mirren as Prospero (film) – reversed gender roles – raised some provocative questions about gender roles – mirren commented that, in changing Prospero to ‘Prospera’, they were able to bring the history of the female struggle with being punished for their knowledge and power into the play- played on the idea that an educated woman was a dangerous thing
1. First productions of the tempest – first ever performance was in front of king James on the 1st November 1611 – Shakespeare may have written the tempest with an indoor setting in mind as when the play was written the king’s men were increasingly using Blackfriars hall as a theatre
2. Restoration productions – 1667: the play was adapted by William davenant into a stage production called ‘enchanted isles’. It retained less than a 1/3 if the original plot and added new characters to provide sentimental love interests to satisfy contemporary tastes – d.j palmer said of it, ‘it is a poor thing’
3. Emphasis on staging in the Victorian era – visual delights were conjured up for Victorian audiences as complex, time consuming staging was exploited – evidence that visuals are being exploited: Charles Kean’s 1857 production at the princess theatre lasted for 5 hours, even though the script had been heavily cut, showing the time taken to display visual effects
4. End of 19th century – focus on Caliban – Caliban started to be presented as more human – actor Beerbohn Tree took on the role of Caliban in his production (which he also directed) at her majesty’s theatre in 1904 and gave the role great prominence – he rearranged the end of the play so that Caliban closed the play- there was a focus on Caliban’s inner struggle to be free of his ‘brutish instincts’

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