KSC theater faculty member PeggyRae Johnson will direct the play that she describes as a romantic comedy with a message about a parent’s concern, support and love for a child. She adapted the play to run 90 minutes without intermission by rewriting the first scene to explain why the main character Prospero, the banished Duke of Milan and a magician, conjures up a storm to bring people to the island where he has been banished with his daughter for 12 years.
Prospero realizes his own mortality and the fact that Miranda would be alone on the island with the monster Caliban. So, Prospero casts spells to create a tempest, causing a shipwreck of the enemies who caused his banishment; the son of one of those enemies becomes Miranda’s love interest.
“The Tempest” is considered the last play written solely by Shakespeare. Following this play, he co-wrote two others, working as a mentor to apprentice John Fletcher, which was the way playwrights mastered their art in the early 17th century when this play made its stage debut. The adaptation will allow students, who are more familiar with Shakespeare as literature, to experience the play as theater, especially the first-year students reading “The Tempest” as part of KSC’s Keene is Reading text for new students.
Johnson places the action on the island of Haiti, rather than the Bermudas, where historically the Sea Venture capsized in a storm on its way to Jamestown in 1609, a year before Shakespeare penned “The Tempest.” Everyone was presumed dead on board, but a year later the ship, repaired by the stranded crew, sailed into Jamestown with most hands on deck. This real life event likely was an inspiration for Shakespeare’s play. Johnson was inspired to use Haiti as the setting for this production to bring focus to a place where people are still suffering – homeless and abandoned like Prospero and Miranda – after an earthquake and hurricanes, most recently Sandy, which further devastated the island before flooding New York City and the New Jersey coast.
The cast is headed by KSC theater professor Daniel Patterson as Prospero and student Ryan Connell of Greenfield, MA, as Miranda. KSC theater alumnus Chris Kelly, who resides in Peterborough, is in the cast along with community members Abigail Gill, who is a student at Monadnock Regional High School in Swanzey, and understudy Cindy Cheshire, a staff member at the Newman Center in Keene.
Tickets are $10 for adults, $8 for senior citizens and youth, and $6 for Keene State students. For tickets call (603) 358-2168. For more information visit www.academics.keene.edu/tad or (603) 358-2162.