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Tempest with a twist

Joie Sullivan, Staff Reporter - November 28, 2012

The Central Theatre Ensemble’s production of William Shakespeare’s “The Tempest” kicked off the season with flair.

“The Tempest” is the story of Duke of Milan, Prospero, and his daughter Miranda.
Prospero’s brother, Antonio, overthrows him as the Duke, and sends him and Miranda to live on an island. There, Prospero becomes a great sorcerer and controls several different spirits, one by the name of Ariel.

Prospero discovers that Antonio, as well as several others, are returning to Naples after a wedding in Tunis. He causes the ship to run aground, and separates the survivors of the shipwreck using his spells.

The play splits into three different plot lines. One includes Antonio, Alonso (the King of Naples) and others; one includes Stephano, Trinculo, and Prospero’s despised slave Caliban; the third includes Prospero, Miranda, and Ferdinand, the king’s son, who falls in love with Miranda.

Eventually, all the characters are brought in front of Prospero through his use of the spirits of the island and Ariel. His last command to Ariel required her to create perfect sailing weather so Ferdinand and Miranda may be married.

“The Tempest” ends with Prospero breaking his magic staff and renouncing his powers while surrounded by the spirits of the island.

The theatre ensemble performed the Tempest with some serious flair. Instead of adopting traditional medieval costumes, characters dressed in 1940’s era clothing, with the exception of the island-dwellers.

“I loved my costume. I loved everyone’s costume. It gave me this suaveness, or Italian mob boss feel,” said Henry Van Leishout, sophomore musical theatre major. Leishout played the role of Antonio.

Stephano and Trinculo, who were drunks in the original play, became musicians and were joined by others on stage. Their period music, marked by steel pails and washboards, filled up the theatre during the pre-show and several times during the performance.

Another highlight of “The Tempest” were the spirits. Each represented a different element and had matching costumes.

“We came up with the concept of what the spirit would look like, then we worked with the costume designers,” said Carly Hutchison, senior musical theatre major. Hutchison played a spirit, as well as the role of a co-choreographer.

“About half [of the spirits] are in the BFA, but only three were dancers,” Hutchison said.
“The others were movers. We had their movements match their element. The fire spirit thought about what fire moved like, water with water, etc.”

The spirits were definitely a highlight, with their brightly colored costumes and intricate head pieces. Ariel was a hit with the audience as well, and was played by five different actresses simultaneously.

The actresses were able to split up the dialogue into different pieces, sometimes having each actress saying one word at a time to form a sentence, yet kept it so the audience could still understand.

The set also added a dynamic to the performance with its impressive height and simplistic design.

Moving away from the traditional medieval and renaissance styles, the performance was fresh and new. Add on top of that some top notch acting and singing, and the performance was outstanding.

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