2“Our Revels Now Are Ended” THE TEMPEST was the first play in the Folio of suggesting that Shakespeare’s colleagues John Heminges and Henry Condell believed it to be one of his most important works.
3Shakespeare’s farewell to the theatre? The text suggests as such… …But this rough magic I here abjure… I’ll break my staff… Bury it certain fathoms in the earth And deeper than did ever plummet sound I’ll drown my book. (V )
4Scholarship is inconclusive Associating Shakespeare with Prospero provides an intriguing view of the play, but THE TEMPEST can still be appreciated as the capstone to his career for its “superb synthesis of his themes, language, and theatricality.” (820)
5It is unique among his works …seemingly the only play for which there is no attributable source for its plot.
6Several contemporary sources suggest that he might have been inspired by accounts of numerous shipwrecks during the age of exploration. To place it in a faraway place, he chooses a mysterious Mediterranean island.Prospers is the artist-autocrat, creating situations in which people are tested to learn about themselves and their values.When faced with the choice, however, between vengeance or forgiveness, he chooses forgiveness, even relinquishing his extraordinary powers before returning to his home in Milan.
7First PerformanceNovember 1, 1611 at King James’s court theatre at WhitehallScholars speculate that the folio edition was a revision of this 1611 textApparently Shakespeare amended the text to honor the royal wedding in January 1613 when 17-year-old Princess Elizabeth married Frederick of Heidelberg, the union which produced the royal Hanoverian lineCelebrations at that wedding included court performances of THE TEMPEST and BEATRICE AND BENEDICK
8Public performancesDuring his lifetime, the play was produced numerous times at THE GLOBE and BLACKFRIARS (the indoor home of the King’s Men)“Our revels now are ended. These our actors, As I foretold you, were all spirits and Are melted into air, into thin air: And, like the baseless fabric of this vision, The cloud-capp'd towers, the gorgeous palaces, The solemn temples, the great globe itself, Ye all which it inherit, shall dissolve And, like this insubstantial pageant faded, Leave not a rack behind. We are such stuff As dreams are made on, and our little life Is rounded with a sleep…” (IV )
10Single plot, single locale Spans two days in actual timeOnly subplot is the comic rebellion of Trinculo, Stephano and Caliban which is integrated into the main plotThe best example in Shakespeare of NeoclassicismLike his early plays, however, it is romantic dramatizing magic, spirits and monstersIts unity of action, however, is its strength, Prospero’s obsession is limited by time
11Traditional/stock characters Prospero is the artist-magicianWilliam Hutt – Stratford Festival, Ontario
12AntonioProspero’s Machiavellan brother banished Prospero from Milan 12 years earlierChris Cooper as ANTONIO in the Julie Taymor film
21Sources and inspirations ACTUAL EVENT Nine English ships set out on a 1609 Voyage to Jamestown, Virginia. On July 24, a powerful storm struck the fleet near the Bermuda Islands. Eight ships escaped. Survivors from the flagship, “Sea Adventure” constructed two small boats and made it to Jamestown in May Several accounts of this voyage were widely published. Shakespeare’s text seems to echo accounts by Sylvester Jourdain (A Discovery of the Bermudas) and a 1610 manuscript by William Strachey.
22Sources and inspirations THE COURTLY MASQUEOriginated by the French and popularized at the Courts of Elizabeth, James and Charles in England. The fourth act of THE TEMPEST features a Masque in which Juno, Iris and Ceres, goddesses of fertility and marriage bless the marriage of Miranda and Ferdinand.
23Sources and inspirations New Technology for the Theatre Inigo Jones, the foremost designer of Court Masques developed many intricate theatrical machines to provide “the quaint device” which is employed at the end of the Masque in THE TEMPEST.
24Sources and inspirations Some Literary Inspirations
26Language, Music, DanceWritten while Shakespeare was “at the height of his powers” so he made use of everything available to him Some of his most eloquent poetry is given to Caliban The text demonstrates his most flexible command of Blank Verse. In addition to Caliban’s speeches, Prospero is provided with memorable “arias”Patrick Stewart, RSC, 2006
27Music and DanceCaliban describes the “thousand twangling instruments” (III.2.139) Songs and incidental music was composed, in part, by Robert Johnson, a musician to King James. Particularly memorable is Ariel’s (Come unto these yellow sands). The dances that accompany the masque no doubt took advantage of dance-masters at court
28Themes and issuesVirtue and vengeance. The play considers the consequences of usurpation…amazingly rather than vengeance or violence, the play ends in forgivenessArt and artifice. As with other of his great late plays, Shakespeare uses the Theater as a metaphor and even ends with an epilogue seeking the forgiveness of the audience.Colonialism.Caliban’s character expresses a view of “the noble savage” that was depicted in Shakespeare’s day. Revolution, usurpation, colonialization are all explored in this play.
37The Tempest on stageIn the Elizabethan era, many productions at court, at Blackfriars and at the GlobeThe Globe and Blackfriars had stage machinery that would allow for the magic effects as well as a discovery space to be used when Prospero discovers Ferdinand and Miranda “playing at chess”
3817th and 18th centuriesIn 1667, it was re-devised as THE ENCHANTED ISLE by John Dryden and William DavenantIt became a popular spectacle throughout the period with music, musicians, extravagant stage effects. A operatic adaptation by Thomas Shadwell was revised as recently as 1959 at the Old Vic and in 1983 by the RSCIn 1757, David Garrick replaced Shakespeare’s text for the Shadwell opera at Drury Lane. When his version failed, he staged the original text, a novel concept for its time.In 1787, John Philip Kemble created a pastiche with elements from Dryden, Shadwell, Shakespeare and some stage business of his own
3919th Century: Spectacle and Calibans William Charles Macready (1838) played Prospero restoring almost all of Shakespeare’s textStill most 19th century productions were the operatic versionNotable examples are the 1857 production by Charles Kean and an 1889 production at the McVickers TheaterIn his 1904 spectacular, Sir Herbert Beerbohm Tree invented a pantomime to bridge Acts I and II
41Caliban evolved over time In the Shadwell opera, Caliban is a grotesqueIn the 1838 Macready production, George Bennet played him as a victim of Prospero’s oppressionWilliam Evans Burton in 1854 played him as a comic rebelDarwin’s ORIGIN OF THE SPECIES (1859) provided future Caliban’s with new possibilities
43The Maly Theatre 1905Detail from Hogarth painting
44The 20th CenturyPeter Brooks version in 1957 at Stratford featured John Gielgud as Prospero and was very simply staged.
451974 – National TheatreGielgud was also lauded for his performance in the production under the direction of Peter Hall. The production featured a reproduction of a Jacobean Court Masque.
46At end of 20th centuryProducers seemed more interested the the play’s politics rather than its spectacle. As early as 1934, Caliban was portrayed at the Old Vic as a Black man enslaved by a white Prospero.In a 1945 production, American Canada Lee, played Caliban in a fish-like costume
471970, Jonathan Miller Max Van Sydow played Prospero. Both Ariel and Caliban were depictedas tattered “field slaves.”
48American productions followed suit 1980 – Shakespeare and Company (Tina Packer) In this production, Stephano was also black. And in the course of the action enslaved a black Caliban.Geroge C. Wolfe’s multicultural Tempest at the New York Shakespeare Festival presented Ariel and Caliban as black slaves to Prospero
49Other productions of note Caliban as a Jamaican Rastafarian in a production at London’s OLD VICPeter Brook’s 1990 production featured a white actor as Caliban. Prosero and Ariel were played by black actors.
50RSCDerek Jacobi as Prospero, Alice Krige as Miranda
511993 – Sam Mendes - RSCWhen Prospero set Ariel free, Ariel spat in his faceAlec McGowen was Prospero, Simon Russell Beale played Ariel
52RSC-2006Patrick Stewart as Prospero, Ariel (Julian Bleach), Miranda (Mariah Gale).
532012- RSCKirsty Bushell as Sebastian in The Tempest.