Port To­bacco Play­ers present ‘The Tem­pest’

Port To­bacco Play­ers pro­duc­tion of Shake­speare’s play be­gins tonight

Maryland Independent - - Front Page - By JAMIE AN­FEN­SON-COMEAU jan­fen­son-comeau@somd­news.com Twit­ter: @JamieACIndyNews

“We are such stuff as dreams are made on,” says the sor­cerer Pros­pero in “The Tem­pest”, the lat­est play by Wil­liam Shake­speare to be per­formed by the Port To­bacco Play­ers.

The play was to be the last for di­rec­tor Jim Kleyle, who has di­rected most of the Shake­speare plays per­formed by the PTP over the past four years.

Kleyle died in March, how­ever, af­ter an ill­ness, and as­sis­tant di­rec­tor Rachel Wal­lace stepped up to direct the play, her Shake­spearean di­rec­to­rial de­but.

“Af­ter we got the show, he sat me down one day and told me he prob­a­bly wasn’t go­ing to make it to show­time, and he wanted me to know what I was get­ting my­self into if I agreed to do this, and I said ab­so­lutely,” Wal­lace said.

Wal­lace said she first be­gan work­ing with Kleyle at the age of 16, when she first be­came in­volved with PTP and has worked with Kleyle for all of his Shake­speare per­for­mances at PTP.

“The Board of Di­rec­tors for PTP was very much on board with me step­ping into the role, so it was re­ally a very seam­less tran­si­tion,” Wal­lace said.

Writ­ten around 1610 or 1611, the play is be­lieved by some schol­ars to have been the last play Shake­speare wrote alone, and some have in­ter­preted the fi­nal scene where Pros­pero, hav­ing aban­doned his magic, turns to the au­di­ence and says that he needs their ap­plause to send him home as rep­re­sen­ta­tive of Shake­speare him­self, al­though the his­tor­i­cal record is un­clear.

“A lot of peo­ple be­lieve it was Shake­speare say­ing good­bye to the stage, so for this to have been Jim’s last play is fit­ting,” Wal­lace said. “We’re us­ing it as our farewell to him as well.”

Wal­lace said the play is be­ing ded­i­cated to Kleyle’s mem­ory.

“The Tem­pest” tells the story of Pros­pero, ex­iled Duke of Mi­lan, and Pros­pero’s daugh­ter Mi­randa. Pros­pero and Mi­randa were over­thrown by Pros­pero’s brother An­to­nio, with the help of Alonzo, the king of Naples, and cast out to sea. Twelve years later, Pros­pero, now ruler of a small is­land, dis­cov­ers that An­to­nio and Alonzo are sail­ing in a ship nearby, and raises a storm through sor­cery and com­manded spir­its to strand the trav­el­ers on the is­land and ex­act re­venge.

While Shake­speare’s “Tem­pest” only had one fe­male char­ac­ter, Mi­randa, the PTP pro­duc­tion changes the gen­der of sev­eral char­ac­ters, most notably mak­ing Pros­pero and spirit-ser­vant Ariel fe­male, as well as Alonzo’s coun­selor and ser­vant.

“One of the things that I re­ally like about Shake­speare is that you can play with gen­der,” Wal­lace said. “We went into au­di­tions say­ing al­most ev­ery role, with the ex­cep­tion of three are gen­der open, any­one can play them,” Wal­lace said. “So Kris­ten [Page-Kirby] tried out for Pros­pero, and she just nailed it. So I said, ‘OK, we’re hav­ing a fe­male Pros­pero.”

Kris­ten Page-Kirby, who plays Pros­pero, said the char­ac­ter’s gen­der change also changes the tone of the show.

“She’s a very smart woman, who got usurped by a guy, work­ing in tan­dem with other guys,” Page-Kirby said. “So it was in­ter­est­ing to deal with power in that way.”

Page-Kirby said it was a chal­lenge to find her own in­ter­pre­ta­tion of the char­ac­ter.

“I had to throw out ev­ery­thing I knew,” Page-Kirby said. “So I re­ally had to re-ground it in a way that res­onated with me. So I had to start at the very ground level. The first thing you know about Pros­pero is she is a su­per pow­er­ful wiz­ard, and I don’t know what it’s like to be a su­per pow­er­ful wiz­ard, but I do know what it’s like to be a mom, and so I started from there.”

Kaite­lyn Bauer Dieguez plays Ariel, the oft­times in­vis­i­ble spirit freed from im­pris­on­ment by Pros­pero and bound into his ser­vice.

“I see Ariel as the spirit of the is­land, al­most a fairy but not quite,” Diequez said. “Pros­pero set her free and she feels al­most like she owes her … but she wants her free­dom, just like any­one else would.”

Dieguez said the change in gen­ders also af­fects the re­la­tion­ship be­tween the two char­ac­ters.

“Pros­pero does re­spect Ariel, and what she’s able to do, and ap­pre­ci­ates what she can do, but still needs her to do what she needs her to do. And Ariel cares for Pros­pero, she loves her and her daugh­ter, and there’s that mu­tual re­spect,” Dieguez said. “And while she loves Pros­pero, she wants to be free.”

An­thony Dieguez plays Cal­iban, the “mon­strous” child of the is­land’s for­mer ruler, a witch named Sy­co­rax. Cal­iban taught Pros­pero and Mi­randa how to live on the is­land, and they taught him their lan­guage and civ­i­liza­tion. But af­ter Cal­iban at­tempted to rape Mi­randa, he was cast out and made a slave by Pros­pero.

“He had al­most a mother-son re­la­tion­ship with Pros­pero,” An­thony Dieguez said. “But over time, he be­gan to feel more the ser­vant than the fam­ily mem­ber.”

“The Tem­pest” is filled with lines that most peo­ple are fa­mil­iar with, even if they haven’t seen the play, Wal­lace said.

“‘What’s past is pro­logue’ is in this one, ‘Hell is empty and all the devils are here’ is in this one. ‘Brave new world’,” Wal­lace said. “It’s in­ter­est­ing how many things from this play bleed into ev­ery­thing else.”

The play will be per­formed Fri­days through Sun­days be­gin­ning tonight at 8 p.m. and con­tin­u­ing un­til Sun­day, May 21. All Fri­day and Satur­day per­for­mances are at 8 p.m., all Sun­day per­for­mances are at 3 p.m.

Tick­ets are $18 each, $15 for se­niors 60 or older, youth 18 and younger or mem­bers of the mil­i­tary.

The Port To­bacco Play­ers The­ater is lo­cated at 508 Charles Street in La Plata.

Tick­ets and ad­di­tional in­for­ma­tion can be found on­line at pt­play­ers.com.


Pros­pero (Kris­ten Page-Kirby) and Mi­randa (Al­li­son Claggett) dis­cuss how they came to be ex­iled to an is­land in the Port To­bacco Play­ers’ pro­duc­tion of Wil­liam Shake­speare’s “The Tem­pest.”

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