Behind the clouds, peace
“I really wanted to visit The Tempest again because, in many ways, my perspective on life is very different now than it was back then,” Theaterwork artistic director David Matthew Olson told
Pasatiempo during a recent phone interview. In 2002, Olson mounted The Tempest at the company’s small theater space on Rufina Circle. This year, Theaterwork presents the play in the 400-seat James A. Little Theater at the New Mexico School for the Deaf. The performances mark Theaterwork’s 93rd production and the finale to the company’s 14th season in New Mexico. The plot of Shakespeare’s enduring play
The Tempest — which was published in the First Folio in 1623 and characterized therein as a comedy — begins with King Alonso of Naples (played by Aaron Leventman in Theaterwork’s production) and his entourage sailing home after attending his daughter’s wedding in North Africa. The travel party sails into a violent storm and is shipwrecked on an island inhabited by Prospero (Dan Friedman), the former Duke of Milan — a man with magical powers who created the storm.
Prospero and his daughter, Miranda (Trish Vecchio), reside in a cave on the island, where a sprite named Ariel (Danielle Reddick) with allegiance to Prospero also dwells. Caliban (Angela Janda Goldstein), an ugly half-man half-beast, also does Prospero’s bidding while under his magical spell — albeit begrudgingly, and sometimes with painful consequences. Miranda and King Alonso’s son Ferdinand (named “Fernando” in this production and played by Monica Lee, in the Shakespearean tradition of gender rolereversal) fall in love, and amid multiple plots to thwart happiness on the island, the tempests in the characters’ hearts are eventually calmed.
“We had planned to do something besides The Tempest, actually,” Olson said. “We originally had Jason Grote’s
Maria/Stuart on the schedule.” (Grote’s play, inspired by Friedrich Schiller’s Maria
Stuart, is a reworking of Schiller’s dramatization of the tragic life of Mary, Queen of Scots.) “After we did Douglas Huff’s Emil’s
Enemies — which was very powerful and artistically rewarding for me but also an emotionally complex dramatic play, due to the Third Reich/execution subject matter — I sort of sat down with Maria/Stuart and decided I wasn’t ready to tackle a dark, mean-spirited comedy just yet,” Olson explained. “Someday I want to do it, but it just wasn’t the time after absorbing and presenting such heady material.
Shakespeare, by way of Maurice Sendak: Danielle Reddick, left, and Logan Luiz; top, from left, Augustus Markwardt, Jasper Keen, and Luiz