Ah, The Tempest.
I have always had a soft spot in my heart for this play. I had one of my seminal Shakespearean moments with this play—as I’ve described in the blog–and between that one and the literally magical production from a couple of years back, co-directed by Teller of Penn & Teller–and you can catch a review of that on the blog as well–this is a play that can hit it out of the park.
Of course, in less skilled hands, the play can come off as stiff (as in that second-scene history lesson Prospero gives Miranda), cheesy (the spirit masques in the play), and with not a little creepy colonialism–oh, Caliban, oh, Caliban.
After a first read-through, it turns out my memory was pretty spot-on. There’s so much in the play that I like, and so little that drives me bonkers (and yes, I’m talking about some of those stiff, cheesy and creepily colonial moments).
As a valedictory for Shakespeare, the play works (especially that epilogue, and more-often-than-not seen-as-over[t]ly-important “Our revels now have ended” speech). The main issue, as I see it so early in our process, is how do you stage the damned thing. I’m finding this a recurring motif with the Romances. I can only imagine what Shakespeare’s own stage managers/directors thought when he would deliver one of these late career tragicomedies.
“WTH? I cannot wait for this guy to retire.”
So, in the weeks to come, I figure to touch upon some dramaturgical questions (Ariel, Caliban, magic, masques, and the like), some speech breakdowns, probably a genre post or two. I don’t know how much I’m going to talk about colonialism/post-colonial theory, but I might hit upon that. There’s probably a father/daughter discussion lurking as well. But who knows…
As I’ve mentioned before, I’m going to do a three-month cycle on The Tempest. I’ve got Modern Brit Lit this term (Molly Bloom, yay), and it looks like I’m going to get a long-term sub position (which is full-time for month or so) around November, AND I have a ton of writing to do (journal and conference submissions), so this is probably going to be stretched out just a bit.
Apologies in advance for stormy publishing!