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Students Wowed by Stratford Festival’s Performance of The Tempest

By Daniel Krieger

Tuesday, October 23rd, was the annual Stratford field trip. Organized by Mrs. Catalano, this trip gives students the opportunity to see Shakespeare’s plays performed live in front of them. There is a very different experience in seeing one of his plays versus reading them in class.

The students attending left school at 8:00 AM, arriving in Stratford, Canada at around 11:45. The trip gives them the opportunity to explore the town for a couple hours and go shopping and get lunch. There is much to do in the town and and plenty of different places to eat, including a chocolate factory.

Unfortunately for the forty-five students who went on the trip, it rained heavily for around twenty minutes while the students were exploring the town of Stratford. Although drenched, they still had a great time meandering around town, trying to spend their Canadian money while they still could.

The play is put on at the Stratford Festival, an incredibly popular theater that puts on many different productions. The town is named Stratford after Shakespeare’s birthplace: Stratford-upon-Avon.

The play performed was The Tempest. This play features Prospero, former Duchess of Milan who ad her throne stolen from her by her brother, Antonio, and the King of Naples. She was cast away with her then-three year old daughter and landed on an uninhabited island, where she gained magical powers and became set on vengeance for her brother and the King’s wrong doings.

She learns that a boat with both of them in it is sailing nearby the island she has inhabited with her daughter for the last seven years and decides to conjure a tempest to crash their ship on the shore.

Prospero, with aid from the island’s previous tenants, Caliban the fish-human and Ariel the spirit, sets up a convoluted plan to get her revenge on her usurpers, as well as assure power for her daughter, Miranda, by making Ferdinand, the King of Naples’ son, fall in love with her.

What set this play apart from other performances of The Tempest was that the Shakespeare Festival in Stratford chose for Prospero to be played by a woman. Traditionally, that character is male. This gave the performance a unique twist on the original play.

The actress who portrayed Prospero, Martha Henry, previously had played the part of Miranda, back in 1962.

The performance was stunning. Creatively using lighting, different props, and sound effects, they uniquely showed the magic and mystical characters in the play. Stella Hobart, a senior, was particularly impressed with the fairy scene. She said after, “I thought it was really funny and well done. The costumes, set, and props were all very cool.”

Hobart wasn’t the only one who enjoyed The Tempest. Anna Bella D’Amico, another senior, said, “I thought it was truly hilarious, and cleverly done. The costumes were absolutely amazing.”

She even went on to say, “It was my favorite Stratford production I have seen yet!”

The Stratford Festival went very above and beyond with the costumes, set design, and props. The fairies had these incredibly long gowns, with myriad colors; the magic displayed used lighting and sound to make it seem like something that was really happening; the king’s ship was cleverly shown by using a giant mast and using red and orange lighting to make it seem aflame after being struck by lightning.

There were some very jump-scare moments with sudden flashes of light and loud claps of thunder.

In one of the scenes, where Prospero is trying to make her “enemies” regret their actions and incite fear in them, they rolled out this giant black bird with glowing red eyes. The stage was dark and rainy, with flashes of lightning and roaring thunder. The bird had a super long beak with massive wings that beat back and forth as it’s extended talons scratch the air. It was an incredible scene.

It is unknown at this time what play East will be going to next year, but listen for the announcement next spring.

 

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