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Home :: Archive :: 2001 :: June ::
Re: Life is a Dream
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 12.1638  Wednesday, 27 June 2001

From:           Robert Teeter <
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Date:           Wednesday, 27 Jun 2001 07:02:31 -0700 (PDT)
Subject: 12.1600 Life is a Dream
Comment:        Re: SHK 12.1600 Life is a Dream

Mike Jensen wrote:

> 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 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 King's cave-raised son.
        <...>

> Those are the parallels I noticed.  I'll be interested to know of
> list-members are aware of others.

I just got back from Ashland.  Having seen both of these plays, I
noticed the following parallels in plot or theme, some of them similar
to what Mike Jensen writes above:

* Revenge vs. forgiveness (also seen in other plays at the festival this
season: Merchant of Venice, Merry Wives, Troilus and Cressida)

* A rightful heir exiled (Prospero, Segismundo)

* Confusion of reality and illusion (Miranda not sure if the storm is
real; the shipwrecked crew believing others in their party to be lost;
Segismundo's "dream")

* A youth exiled from society at an early age (Miranda and Segismundo)

* Civilization vs. wilderness (Prospero's island, Segismundo's prison)

* Revolution (Stephano, Trinculo, Caliban; Segismundo)

* Overly controlling father figures (Prospero, King Basilio; also seen
in Master and Mistress Page and Pandarus)

Life is a Dream is well worth seeing, but I should note that the Ashland
production makes a change in the ending that will bother some more than
others.

Bob Teeter (
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 ) | http://www.interleaves.org/~rteeter/

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