A "brave new world" of dark magic, young love, family rivalry and pitiful drunkards, Shakespeare's "The Tempest" is one of Shakespeare's most performed productions. The Monroe County Civic Theater (MCCT) production of “The Tempest” premiered May 31 at Harmony School.
Shakespeare’s romantic tragi-comedy, usually considered his final solo work, follows Prospero, the exiled Duke of Milan, who uses his magical powers to shipwreck the culprits of his predicament on his small island and plot out his revenge. Through dark magic, drunk clowns and more, Prospero finally reunites with his old family.
According to the program, the show explores what it means to be displaced and asks, “What must be overcome and left behind to move forward?”
This abridged, three-hour production included an intermission and began with a 15-minute pre-show, “Tempest in a Teacup,” in which child actors orient audience members to the show.
Due to severe weather threats, the production premiered at the Harmony School, which was a last-minute change from its original location, Third Street Park. The troupe hadn’t even rehearsed in its new space, a school gym functioning as an auditorium.
Alain Craig as Trincolo, a humorous drunkard in the show, and William Henry as Stephano joked about the location change when introducing the show.
Though the performance was moved indoors, it didn’t so much as drizzle, and the actors quickly adapted to the new space. The rest of the shows are planned for Third Street Park.
Rory Willats, who directed the production, submitted a proposal for the amateur theater company to produce “The Tempest” as part of their “Shakespeare in the Park” series. It is Willats' first time directing a Shakespeare play, and his first time directing for MCCT. It was many of the actors and production team members’ first Shakespeare performance, as well.
Willats said he aimed to make his interpretation of Shakespeare’s work as accessible as possible. He also said that Miranda has more subtle agency than she originally had in the play, in which she largely subservient to Ferdinand.
Caleb Curtis, a rising senior who’s pursing a BA in Theatre and Drama at IU, played a very quirky Ferdinand. Curtis said the quirkiness comes from the fact that he’s a Prince, uncomfortable with the prospect of rising to the throne, but his romance with Miranda emboldens him with newfound confidence.
Curtis said he particularly enjoyed working with Willats.
“I think he’s a fantastic director,” Curtis said. “He had a clear vision of what he wanted, he was so communicative of his vision to his actors and allowed us to play and find things and only ever supported us.”
Curtis said his first outing with MCCT was a refreshing change from the rigid nature of professional theater, where everyone involved is there to do a job.
“In community theater, there’s just a more laid-back sense to it,” Curtis said. “We are doing this simply for fun.”
"The Tempest" has shows at 6:45 p.m. on June 1 and 2, and the final show, which will be dementia -riendly, will be at 2:45 p.m. on June 3. The rest of the event is set to take place at Third Street Park.
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