Be­hind the clouds, peace

Pasatiempo - - Onstage This Week - Rob DeWalt

“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

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