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Home :: Archive :: 1993 :: May ::
Review St. John's College *Tempest*
Shakespeare Electronic Conference, Vol. 4, No. 285.  Saturday, 8 May 1993.
 
From:           Blair Kelly III <
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Date:           Saturday, 8 May 93 17:33:43 EDT
Subject:        [Review St. John's College *Tmp.*]
 
The Tempest was recently performed by students of St. John's College in
Annapolis, Maryland.  (St. John's is noted for its curriculum of "The
Great Books".)  The production took place on St. John's campus in The
Great Hall, a beautiful example of early American architecture.  The
performance I saw was very well attended.  All the chairs (arranged on
three sides) were filled, and many people sat on the floor in front of
the chairs, while others sat or stood in the balcony that runs along
all four sides of the hall.  The production had no scenery other than
The Great Hall and used only a few props.  The emphasis was on the
language, the story, and the acting.  I enjoyed this college
performance.
 
I always wonder how a college student is going to pull off playing
Prospero, an older man.  But Todd A. Stregiel did a fine job.  With
lightly grey hair and a close grey beard he achieved the effect without
heavy makeup.  This was the my first Tempest with a female Ariel
(played by Lisbeth Fouse).  With dark swirls and zags painted on her
face and body, she moved around the "stage" with movements that were a
combination of ballet, gymnastics, and belly-dancing.  The effect was
very nice.  The six other Spirits were painted similarly.  I liked the
various little skits they did as attention holders during the scene
changes, to the lovely accompaniment of live music of flute and cello.
When Prospero has the Spirits perform for Ferdinand and Miranda, these
Spirits did a fast mime of the play Hamlet.  (I am embarrassed by the
fact that it took me a few moments to catch on to what they were
doing!)
 
In the program, the director (Shanna R. Hack) wrote: "We did not play
around with the language of Shakespeare.  However, we have changed
references to gender: Alonso is Ferdinand's mother, but King of Naples;
Antonia is sister to Prospero but Duke of Milan.  In the world of our
play, these titles do not have the gender-specific connotations which
they normally carry.  Star Trek takes the license of using the title
"sir" for men and women alike, and so do we."
 
Stephano enters having had a bit too much to drink.  This was ably
acted by Benjamin Friedman, as perhaps only a college student can (and
as perhaps only a college audience can appreciate!).  Triculo (Aaron
Lewis) entered carrying a rubber chicken (and looking somewhat like his
rubber chicken) which he used throughout the play.  He also had the
habit of sitting on and speaking his asides to the nearest member of
the audience (beginning on the night I saw the production with me!).
 

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