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Shakespeare’s ‘The Tempest’ to be performed by Masters in Fine Arts theater students

A Shakespearian play of tempting proportions is slated to make an appearance on Ohio State’s campus.

“The Tempest” by William Shakespeare is scheduled to be performed Thursday through Oct. 25 at the Roy Bowen Theatre in the Drake Performance and Event Center. The cast is made up of Masters in Fine Arts theater students.

“The Tempest” is a play about rebellion, romance and forgiveness that emphasizes the magic of theater and the role of audience in theatrical production. It is considered by many critics to be Shakespeare’s last play. Hannibal Hamlin, an associate professor of English at OSU, explained in an email that “The Tempest” is a desert island story, where Shakespeare “transports his characters to a strange land where all their familiar laws and customs don’t apply.”

Cressida Brown, a native of London and assistant director at the Royal Shakespeare Company, is the director for the play and adapted it for the MFA actors. Brown has been in Columbus for the past seven weeks, taking a break from traveling for RSC productions.

Brown said her changes to “The Tempest” were not too drastic, with the biggest difference being the length of the play, which she cut down by about thirty minutes for the younger audience.

Brown said her priority when directing the play was capturing the true ambience Shakespeare had intended, the magic of the theater and role of an audience.

“It is Shakespeare’s farewell to theater, he is giving up his writing,” she said. “I wanted to focus on the essence of Shakespeare.”

Brown said space is important in presenting Shakespeare’s farewell tribute to the art of performance.

“How you are using the space is as important as the text,” she said. “For ‘The Tempest,’ the entire theater is the set.”

The chemistry between the actors and the audience members brings focus on the interactive nature of theater Shakespeare was trying to convey.

“I wanted to use references alluding to the magic of theater,” Brown said. “The characters are part of the set in that they conjure the space to life. They bring the magic.”

Main character Prospero serves as a sort of “director” of the production, Brown said, by personally interpreting the events of the play to the audience.

The entire theater becomes the main island in the plot, Brown said, and the characters who wash on shore are “very much outsiders,” she said. “And the audience is involved in this experience.”

Kelsey Brannan, a second-year in psychology, said she would be interested in seeing the performance.

“It sounds like a really cool organization and production,” she said. “And I like to get involved in events around campus.”

Hamlin said this could be considered one of Shakespeare’s more enchanting works.

“In this kind of story, an author transports his characters to a strange land where all their familiar laws and customs don’t apply,” Hamlin said. “It begins with a shipwreck, is full of magic, music and mayhem, and ends with a happy young couple in love on their way back to Italy.”

Tickets are available at the Theatre Department Box Office and are $15 for students and children, $20 for the general public, and $18 for faculty and senior citizens. According to a box office spokesperson, the first two performances have already sold out. The complete schedule of performances is available on the Department of Theatre website.

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