Last Wednesday, the cast and crew of “The Tempest” gathered at the Lee Center for another rehearsal before preview night. Inside the theater, netting adorned the stage, extending from the ceiling to the floor, which provided an aura of ambiguity for the play’s shipwrecked island setting. Homasote was laid down and structured to give the effect of sand, each board connected to create an intricate path throughout the entire theater.
Written by William Shakespeare in the early 17th century, “The Tempest” is a story of romance, adventure, mystery and self-discovery that will mesmerize its audience with its characters’ escapades. Full of vengeful dukes, talented magicians, mischievous spirits, and love-struck teens, this Shakespeare play has the making of an action-packed romantic adventure that will capture your attention from beginning to end.
Most people are familiar with some of Shakespeare’s more famous works, such as “Romeo and Juliet,” “Hamlet,” and “Macbeth,” but director Ki Gottberg has chosen to introduce one of Shakespeare’s lesser-known tales to Seattle University’s stage so that people can appreciate some of his other works.
“The Tempest’ is the last play Shakespeare wrote alone, so it’s very special,” Gottberg said. “It’s one of his most romantic and soulful stories, because it tells us about the complexity of human nature.”
Students are guaranteed to be empathetic toward the characters’ plights as they witness their thought processes throughout the play. The ways in which they contemplate solutions to their problems are similar to how we mull over methods to finishing last minute homework or saving money for groceries. Some moments will make us laugh, while others will make us cringe as we watch characters act instinctively and plot patiently.
Gottberg is committed to giving the audience an experience unparagoned to other productions. One of the ways this is made possible is by the seating structure. Space is left around and inside the stage where chairs are going to be set up, so the audience is not watching the play from a traditional viewpoint—a setup known as environmental theater.
“We have seats along the inside of the island’s structured paths, so the audience is sitting in the sea and viewing the show from different angles,” lights technician and senior Ray Molina said. “Be prepared for a immersive experience.”
Another trait that will set Seattle U’s production of “The Tempest” apart from other interpretations is the costumes. Elizabethan era tights are passed over in favor of modern jeans and leather, yet other articles of clothing, such as vests, can be spotted that are more conventional for Shakespeare’s time period.
“Yes, our costumes are very unique,” actor and junior Joshua Swaby agreed. “It’s traditional meets contemporary, so this isn’t going to be like other interpretations of ‘The Tempest.’”
This stylistic choice not only makes this production stand out, but it also reaches out to younger theater goers to show them how Shakespeare plays have a place in any time period, and contain themes and messages of relevance that will transfer across time.
“It was written so long ago, but it addresses real issues that people still deal with today and will continue to deal with in the future. You’ll be surprised with who you relate to,” said assistant stage manager and junior Bailey Titus.
Seattle U’s “The Tempest” is due to hit the stage on Wednesday, Nov. 9, and it’s going to be a production that you won’t want to miss. Starring Ariana Chriest, Dylan Zucati, Gabrielle Sigrist, and Emily Haver, “The Tempest” promises to stay true to Shakespeare’s vision, yet incorporate a few noticeable differences that will make the production a unique interpretation.
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