Lord Denney Player’s production of “The Tempest” is set to begin on Feb. 9. Credit: Courtesy of Oliver Urdaneta

“The Tempest” will blow into Ohio and wreck on the shores of Columbus for the next two weekends.

Lord Denney’s Players, a theater group housed within the Ohio State Department of English, will perform William Shakespeare’s “The Tempest” at the Columbus Performing Arts Center.

“The Tempest,” which is believed to be Shakespeare’s last independently written play, begins with a wizard named Prospero who raises a tempest to seek revenge on his enemies. The play is a romantic comedy of sorts, using magic and romance to create twisting love and marriage plots as it progresses.  

Sarah Neville, founder and creative director of the theater troupe, said this production of “The Tempest” is nontraditional and focused on being a funnier adaptation with a younger cast than what is usually seen in other productions.

“We have a much younger cast, we have a much younger Prospero, and we have a much funnier show,” Neville said. “This is a more nimble performance of ‘The Tempest’ than maybe the more traditional ones that people are used to seeing.”

The play is directed by Manuel “Manny” Jacquez, a Ph.D. candidate studying Renaissance literature. Jacquez’s dissertation concerns Shakespeare performance, and he focuses on change and development of staging in Shakespeare’s period. He said directing this show is beneficial to his research on the staging of early modern drama.

“Thinking about what the play calls for, in terms of the material conditions and demands of staging, it has been very illuminating,” Jacquez said. “Trying to think about issues of performance that the playwrights and the theater companies, themselves, in Shakespeare’s time, would have to figure out is interesting to me.”

Auditions for the show were open to all students on campus, Jacquez said. Mary Grace Thibault, a fourth-year in atmospheric science and anthropology, is cast as Ariel in the production. She said she wanted to participate in a theater production at OSU before she graduated.

“I saw the advertisement for auditions and I haven’t acted since high school, so I really wanted to try it again now that I had the time before I graduated,” Thibault said.

Thibault also said a lot of work went into developing the characters, and she hopes audience members are able to pick up on it.

“When you act out ‘The Tempest,’ you have to start paying close attention to the emotions of the characters and what exactly makes all the characters click,” she said.

Although this production has a more light-hearted approach than more traditional renditions, Neville said people can take away serious themes.

“Here is a play where (Prospero), who’s full of anger and vengeance learns to be more concerned with forgiveness,” Neville said. “He learns to be better than he is, and I think that’s a really hopeful story and it’s one that maybe we could use when people are feeling less than hopeful given other circumstances.”

“The Tempest” will be performed Thursday through Saturday and Feb. 16 through 18 at 7:30 p.m.. at the Columbus Performing Arts Center’s Van Fleet Theatre. A matinee performance is also offered this Sunday at 2 p.m.l Admission is free for OSU English majors and $5 for OSU students, faculty and staff. General public tickets are available for $10.

Students in Lord Denney’s Players rehearse “The Tempest.” Credit: Courtesy of Oliver Urdaneta