"The Tempest" transports audience to a magical island

November 6, 2014

Shakespeare’s Tempest begins with the illusion of a shipwreck, but there was no disaster to plague Madeira’s visually beautiful and dynamically staged production. Director of Theater and Film Krista Cowan led a talented group of students and adults in an impressive example of project-based learning. Ms. Cowan adapted the original play to the all-female cast by changing several characters from male to female, starting with Prospero who became Prospera. Perhaps this change made the power politics of the play more realistic to our Madeira students, which would further the students’ understanding of that central theme. Beyond the gender-bending, every theme of the play was enhanced by the cleverly designed set, lighting, and music, which contributed to the energetic atmosphere of a magical island.

Kelleen Moriarty ’15 (Prospera) spoke with such confidence and poise on stage that it was easy to forget how much work is must have taken to learn all of those lines! She and Grace Owen ’15 established a believable mother-daughter relationship in the roles of Prospera and Miranda. Sophomores Cori Williams and Diana Smith, playing a doubled version of Ariel, along with a band of sprites, moved gracefully and sang sweetly as they carried out magical spells that dazzled and tormented other characters on stage. Ann Tait Hall ’16 and Gaelyn Smith ’16 were believable as power-hungry schemers, as were Kristin Joostema, Claire Pitzer and Celine Xing as more sympathetic characters, grieving for the supposed loss of Ferdinand (Vei Vei Thomas ’17). While Kerstin Shimkin’s ’17 striking Caliban make-up rendered her more frightening, her wonderful enunciation allowed Shakespeare’s language to ring out through the auditorium, making her tortured character more engaging. Last, but not least, the jester and the drunkard, Trinculo (Jeeho Ha ’17) and Stephano (Mary Kate Gould ’17), played the famous comic scene with Caliban with plenty of good humor. Am I the only one who kept trying to imitate Jeeho’s backbend for the rest of the weekend? It was incredible!

The play was thoroughly delightful--a fitting result of the dedicated work of so many students and adults in our community.

Contributed by Dr. Donavan Arizmendi, Madeira English Department