The Tempest

Can Shakespeare be any more fun, you say? Just add some puppets!

By Olesya Komarnytska

 

Here are some eye-catching past productions, in a variety of media, which brought the Bard’s vision alive with the help of some talented craftsmanship.

The Shakespeare Theatre Company of Washington, DC recently mounted this gorgeous Ethan McSweeny production of The Tempest as part of its 2015/16 season. On the surreal set of white sand and wreckage that is Prospero’s island, the actors share the stage with colossal puppets designed by James Ortiz.

shakespeare-theatre-company-the-tempest

https://www.washingtonpost.com/entertainment/theater_dance/colossal-puppets-help-create-a-monumental-tempest-at-the-shakespeare-theatre-co/2014/12/30/083c1e38-8a77-11e4-ace9-47de1af4c3eb_story.html

 

http://www.broadwayworld.com/washington-dc/article/The-Shakespeare-Theatre-Company-Presents-William-Shakespeares-THE-TEMPEST-20141124#

 

a-midsummer-nights-dream

The stop motion master Jiří Trnka’s last feature film was the 1959 Sen noci svatojánské (A Midsummer Night’s Dream). In this film, he created expressive stop motion characters within highly detailed landscapes and scenarios that were further brought to life through the classical compositions of Vaclav Trojan. The film was punctuated by some quite comedic moments that couldn’t have been achieved through anything other than stop motion.

Sen noci svatojánské was recently shown as part of TIFF’s Magic Motion: The Art of Stop Motion Animation retrospective.

 

 

 

And of course, this short review wouldn’t be complete without a tip of the hat to The Muppets. I feel the Swedish Chef exhibits a wonderful mastery of the iambic pentameter!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Great News! Extended Early Bard Savings for the 2015/16 Season!

As an extra special Halloween treat, Shakespeare in Action will be extending the Early Bard discount on bookings of our upcoming tours Shakespeare Meets Hip Hop and Suddenly Shakespeare!

Shakespeare Meets Hip Hop- November 23- December 4, 2015 and April 18- May 6, 2016

Shakespeare Meets Hip Hop is a vibrant, interactive presentation that demonstrates how modern hip-hop shares many similarities with the themeslanguage and rhythm used by Shakespeare. Both are full of poetry, word play and lyricism, and both deal with what it is to be human.

The presentation features three professional actors, thumb-nail sketches of Shakespeare’s life and times, and key scenes & speeches from Shakespeare’s most popularly studied plays – including MacbethRomeo & Juliet and Hamlet.

Shakespeare Meets Hip Hop brings alive the parallels between the world of the plays and their own contemporary experience. It’s the perfect complement to your in-class teaching of a specific play, in the beginning, in the middle or at the end.

Suddenly Shakespeare- April 4-15, 2016

This Spring, Shakespeare in Action brings Kim Selody’s sparking production of Suddenly Shakespeare to your school.

This hour long performance brings four of Shakespeare’s best-loved plays –Romeo and Juliet, The Tempest, Macbeth and Twelfth Night – to life for children ages five to seventy-five. Featuring music, dance and physical comedy, the performance is the perfect introduction to Shakespeare for young audiences.

Shakespeare in Action’s Artistic Director, Michael Kelly, describes the show as “a feast of magic, laughter, music and spectacle.” He says, “Suddenly Shakespeare will knock your kids’ socks off! Shakespeare’s stories are so magical, and the show allows kids, no matter what their age, to really participate with the material in a fun and engaging way.”

*Book either of these shows before October 31, 2015, and SAVE $50!

For more information, or to book, please call (416) 703-4881, or e-mail info@shakespeareinaction.org!

Shakespeare at the Movies- Jurassic World

The moment film fans from around the world have been patiently waiting for for many years has finally arrived… The latest film in the Jurassic Park series is being released this week! In what is sure to be one of the biggest movies of the summer, Jurassic World picks up many years after the original (and may or may not ignore the events of the 2nd and 3rd in the series, to many fans’ delight.) The (almost) entirely new cast have a wide range of experience in different genres of film, with a few Shakespearean film and stage roles on their resumes!

bryce-dallas-howard

Bryce Dallas Howard (Claire)

Appeared in:

  • As You Like It (2006) as Rosalind
  • As You Like It (The Public Theater, 2003) as Rosalind

irrfan-khan

Arrfan Khan (Masrani)

Appeared in:

  • Haider (2014) as Roohdaar
  • Maqbool (2003) as Maqbool

*To read more about recent popular Shakespeare adaptations in Bollywood, check out one of our past blog posts!

bd-wong

BD Wong (Dr. Henry Wu)

Appeared in:

  • The Tempest (Roundabout Theatre Company, 1989) as Ariel

Did I miss someone? Do you think Shakespeare would enjoy the Jurassic Park series? Leave a comment and let us know!

The Songs of Shakespeare’s Plays

One of my favourite aspects of movies, television, and plays is music. I am always intrigued by the creative decision to include music, whether it be to create a mood or to comment on a specific situation. Why was a particular song chosen? How does it tie in to the plot? Why is the song played at that particular moment?

Shakespeare’s plays are no different. Not only did Shakespeare make reference to music numerous times in his works, he also wrote songs in to his plays! One such example is in The Tempest, when Ariel sings while helping Prospero with his attire.

Where the bee sucks. there suck I:
In a cowslip’s bell I lie;
There
I couch when owls do cry.
On the bat’s back I do fly
After summer merrily.
Merrily, merrily shall I live now
Under the blossom that hangs on the bough
(Act V, Scene I)

It isn’t a wonder that Shakespeare incorporated music in his works since music played a critical role in the Elizabethan era. Queen Elizabeth’s appreciation for the arts is hugely influential in the development and emergence of music and dance as popular forms of entertainment. With the number of songs written into Shakespeare’s works, I am left to wonder if Shakespeare originated what we now call musicals?

With that thought, I leave you with an interpretation of one Shakespeare’s songs. Enjoy!

Where the Bee Sucks

What If Modern Authors Redid Shakespeare?

In June of 2013, Random House imprint Hogarth Press announced that they are commissioning a slate of authors to novelize the complete works of Shakespeare for a modern audience. The launch of these books in 2016 will coincide with the 400th anniversary of the Bard’s death.

The roster of illustrious authors who have signed on to modernize Shakespeare’s plays includes Margaret Atwood (The Tempest), Jeannette Winterson (The Winter’s Tale), Anne Tyler (The Taming of the Shrew), Howard Jacobson (The Merchant of Venice), and Jo Nesbo (Macbeth).

With the 400th anniversary only two years away, and 32 plays left unclaimed, Hogarth is running out of time to get these books written, so we thought we’d help them out with suggestions of author and play pairings we’d like to see. We had trouble limiting our imaginations to living authors only though!

jrr-tolkein

J.R.R. Tolkein + Hamlet: Hamlet, Shakespeare’s longest work, is a four hour play about a prince who decides in Act 1 to avenge his father’s death, and after five acts and 3834 lines of flip-flopping, he eventually gets around to it. Who better to take on the dithering Dane than the man who wrote the three-part story of a skittish hobbit who takes 1300 pages to accomplish one task?

stephenie-meyer

Stephenie Meyer + Romeo and Juliet: Despite its reputation as the greatest love story ever told, let’s face it, once Mercutio dies, Romeo and Juliet is a total snooze-fest. In order to appeal to today’s main audience for epic love stories (i.e. tweens), R&J could use an injection of vampire vs. werewolf warfare to pump up the drama. “O Romeo, Romeo, a werewolf art thou, Romeo?”

george-rr-martin

George R.R. Martin + Titus Andronicus: Shakespeare, who was never one to shy away from bloodshed and violence, has a literary soul mate in the bloodthirsty author of the Game of Thrones series. I get chills just imagining what gruesome twists Martin would add to a story already brimming with beheadings, tongue removals, and characters getting baked into pies.

dr-seuss

Dr. Seuss + Timon of Athens: Shakespeare’s Timon of Athens is essentially the plot of The Grinch Who Stole Christmas told in reverse. In this lesser known play, Timon, a wealthy Athenian, blithely bestows his riches on his flaky artist friends, and anyone else who asks. But when his money runs out and his friends abandon him, he renounces human society and runs off to the forest to live in a cave. He spends the rest of his days hating everyone and spouting abuse at anyone who dares to visit.

jasper-fforde

Jasper Fforde + The Tempest: I know Hogarth already has an author for The Tempest, but we couldn’t resist fantasizing about what kinds of transgressions Fforde’s literary detective Thursday Next would call out the characters on Prospero’s island for.

Kids’ Camp – 1st run without scripts!

- Summer Camp for Kids -  Prospero shares his sea sorrows. Miranda listens, very patiently. Photo: SIA

– Summer Camp for Kids –
Prospero shares his sea sorrows. Miranda listens, very patiently.
Photo: SIA

- Summer Camp for Kids -  Ferdinand is "spell-stopped." Photo: SIA

– Summer Camp for Kids –
Ferdinand is “spell-stopped.”
Photo: SIA

- Summer Camp for Kids -  The cast of The Tempest...but where's Caliban? Photo: SIA

– Summer Camp for Kids –
The cast of The Tempest with Summer Associate, Catherine Mason…but where’s Caliban?
Photo: SIA

 

bLOG – Shakespeare Challenge 2013

L to R: Ferdinand (Trevor Ketcheson) and Miranda (Lindsay Baxter) fight over The Log (as itself) in The Tempest, Shakespeare Challenge 2013

Want your own log to fight over? You’re in luck! I created the log here in our rehearsal room (under the supervision of Pat, our wonderful set and costume designer), and I’m going to tell you how to make one of your very own!

Here’s what you’ll need: chicken wire, cardboard, scissors, string, newspaper, white glue, water, masking tape, brown paper, paper towels, matte medium, sand paper, and brown or black markers or crayons.

Step 1: Create the shape. Roll the chicken wire into the shape you’d like for your log (don’t worry if it’s not perfect; it will look more realistic that way). “Sew” the long edges together with string.

Step 2: Add the ends. Trace the ends of your log onto pieces of cardboard. Cut these pieces out and tape them to the ends of your log.

Step 3: Time to get messy! Mix up a papier-mâché paste (we used just glue and water; make sure it’s thick enough that the newspaper won’t slide off the chicken wire). Add about 3 layers of papier-mâché with strips of newspaper, letting the log dry between each layer.

Step 4: Create texture. We used rolled-up pieces of newspaper and tape to give our log its texture. On the ends, we added circles of rolled-up tape to imitate the rings of the tree.

Step 5: Add bark. Use long strips of brown paper for the final layers of papier-mâché (we recycled some old packing paper; using more than one shade/texture of paper gave our tree its interesting appearance). You can use brown paper towel on the ends of the log and any other tricky spots.

Step 6: Finishing touches. Sand off any rough edges. Use a brown or black marker or crayon to add colour and definition to the ends of your log (and anywhere else you think it is needed).

Step 7: Protect your log. We used several layers of matte medium to keep the log in good condition through final rehearsals and the show.

Thus ends my bLOG. Good luck!

– Written by Lisa