The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 12.1600 Monday, 25 June 2001
Date: Friday, 22 Jun 2001 08:17:13 -0700
Subject: Life is a Dream
I'm writing from Ashland, Oregon, where the Oregon Shakespeare Festival
is mounting an 11 play season, including Shakespeare's *The Tempest* and
Calderon's *Life is a Dream.* A comment by artistic director Libby Apel
makes it clear that this is deliberate, and the two plays have some
interesting resonances. Let me defensively add that I have not read
*Life,* nor seen it produced before, so I may have missed some things.
The King in *Life* (sorry, my wife is asleep in the same room as the
program so I don't have character names as I write) corresponds to
Prospero in that the King is much more interested in science than in
rule. He plans to abdicate so he may study mathematics. When it comes
to math, I know the feeling.
The parallel between the King's study and Prospero's art is obvious. In
fact the King is a bit of a fortune teller, saw in the stars that his
son would be a bad ruler, and so had him banished to a man-made cave to
the east. Anyway, this sets up such other resonances with *Tempest* as
succession, and the politics of who should rule.
There is also a Caliban character, the Kings cave-raised son. He is
crude and bestial, prone to give into his passions, and thereby hurt
others. Post-colonialist critics will giggle with glee to know that he
is therefore not thought a fit ruler for the kingdom after the King's
Those are the parallels I noticed. I'll be interested to know of
list-members are aware of others.
Post-colonial influenced productions of *The Tempest* often cast a black
actor as Caliban. OSF cast an African-American actor as the King's son
in *Dream.* Could have just been blind casting, and the actor is
certainly fine in the role, but with OSF's deliberate *Tempest*
parallels, I gotta wonder.
All the best,
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