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Home :: Archive :: 2000 :: August ::
Re: Performing 'The Tempest
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 11.1446  Monday, 7 August 2000.

[1]     From:   Pat Dolan <
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        Date:   Friday, 28 Jul 2000 05:56:34 -0500
        Subj:   Re: SHK 11.1437 Re: Performing 'The Tempest'

[2]     From:   David Evett <
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        Date:   Friday, 28 Jul 2000 07:23:27 EDT
        Subj:   Re: SHK 11.1432 Performing 'The Tempest'

[3]     From:   Terence Hawkes <
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        Date:   Friday, 28 Jul 2000 07:51:21 -0400
        Subj:   SHK 11.1432 Performing 'The Tempest'

[4]     From:   David Lindley <
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        Date:   Friday, 28 Jul 2000 12:10:40 GMT
        Subj:   Re: SHK 11.1437 Re: Performing 'The Tempest'


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Pat Dolan <
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Date:           Friday, 28 Jul 2000 05:56:34 -0500
Subject: 11.1437 Re: Performing 'The Tempest'
Comment:        Re: SHK 11.1437 Re: Performing 'The Tempest'

At a recent production here in Iowa City, Ariel was played effeminately
by a slim black male, Caliban hypermasculinely (but with damaged lower
limbs) by a powerfully built black male. The result was mixed, but the
effect was to heighten the "colonial effect" at the same time that the
affection between Prospero and Ariel was made very interesting. I
thought both actors were very good, especially Caliban--the contrast
between the power he exerted with his arms and shoulders and the
weakness of his legs was striking.

Caliban played with his own Caribbean accent (Martinique, if memory
serves). Ariel had a more "cultivated" accent, which morphed into
Baptist preacher (powerful, but...) in the Furies scene.

The King of Naples was a substantial black male as well. He was, in
fact, the most kingly actor on the stage.

Sorry, I don't remember any names. Most (all?) were grad students.

Patrick

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           David Evett <
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Date:           Friday, 28 Jul 2000 07:23:27 EDT
Subject: 11.1432 Performing 'The Tempest'
Comment:        Re: SHK 11.1432 Performing 'The Tempest'

Responses to a few of your questions.

We saw Redgrave at the Globe earlier this summer, very early in the run,
and found her performance so uncertain and unassertive that the maternal
warmth in principal to be contributed by her never really came across.
Friends who saw it last week were much more satisfied, however.

The two most memorable Ariels in my experience were radically
different.  Nicholas Pennell, cast very much against type, played it at
Stratford, Ont., in 1975.  P. was a muscular, deep-chested man with a
bass-baritone voice and no great physical gifts.  The conceit of the
performance that an aerial spirit, like a fish in water, would need to
move constantly to stay in one place, so he took most of his speeches
from one or another small area of the stage, as it were treading air, in
a movement based on the old walking in one place mime device.  That
production occurred in Stratford's palmy days, and did have the
advantage of a couple of dozen apprentices constantly around the stage
as the attendant spirits, ready at a gesture from their leader to
produce a tempest or hound petty criminals into foul ponds.

My son Ben, also muscular, deep-chested, and relatively deep-voiced,
played a very physical Ariel at the American Repertory Theater 3 or 4
years ago, using postures and movements adapted from dancers' exercises;
a natural bass, he sang the songs (music composed for the
performance--contact the ART for info) in a counter-tenor register which
he had never explored before, and which his father, at least, found
thrilling.

The most common treatment of the vanishing banquet is to glue the
dishes, candelabra, plastic fruit, etc., to the top of a board pivoting
at the centers of the two short ends so that it can be almost
instantaneously spun out of sight.

Tempestuously,
David Evett

[3]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Terence Hawkes <
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Date:           Friday, 28 Jul 2000 07:51:21 -0400
Subject: Performing 'The Tempest'
Comment:        SHK 11.1432 Performing 'The Tempest'

Caliban should have an Irish accent.

T. Hawkes

[4]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           David Lindley <
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Date:           Friday, 28 Jul 2000 12:10:40 GMT
Subject: 11.1437 Re: Performing 'The Tempest'
Comment:        Re: SHK 11.1437 Re: Performing 'The Tempest'

On the question of male/female Ariel Christine Dymkowski writes
interestingly in the 'Shakespeare in Performance' edition just out from
CUP  (and, of course, gives masses of information about all kinds of
production throughout the centuries).  She points to the ways in which
choice of male or female actor alters the dynamics of the relationships
of the play, and suggests ways in which the choice is itself determined
by a larger view of the play itself.  (I should declare an interest,
perhaps, in that the edition is based on the text I've prepared for the
NCS edition - which itself is just about to be completed).

More generally, the emphasis upon Ariel's lack of liberty and desire for
freedom which the Mendes production with Simon Russell Beale embodied,
has theatrical precedent going back at least to Badel in 1951, and seems
to have become commoner as the years have passed; it could, in
postcolonial interpretations (such as Miller's 1970 and 1988
productions) emphasise the difference in similarity of the position of
Ariel and Caliban (a take influenced by Mannoni, and very apparent in
Cesaire's powerful rewriting of the play).  In Nancy Meckler's Shared
Experience Company production, however, the female Ariel was 'repressed'
by a costume which seemed at first an elegant designer number, a tabard
with long floating sleeves, but was revealed at the end as Ariel removed
it after being granted her freedom, as a kind of imprisonment.  The
revelation of the very obviously female body of Ariel at the end fitted
with Meckler's reading of the play as dealing primarily with Prospero's
anxiety about coming to terms with the need to release Mrianda into her
independent and sexual freedom, and generated a parallel between his
love for his daughter and his affection for Ariel-as-child.

David Lindley
 

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