Page 1

Olney Theatre Center’s

Audience Context Guide for

The Tempest


Table of Contents

2

History of the Play

3

The World of William Shakespeare

4

The Age of Exploration

6

Synopsis

8

Meet the Characters

9

Prospero’s “So Potent Art”

10

Q&A: JulieAnn Elliott

12

Q&A: Jacob Mundell

14

Activity Pages

16

HOW to use

this guide

N

ow in its 66th year, National Players has fostered a rich tradition of producing Shakespeare on epic proportions, not in terms of set and costumes (they are limited, after all, to what they can take on the road for months at a time) but in terms of education and outreach. Tour 65 alone completed 95 performances, 100 workshops and dozens of Q&As in 55 different venues across 21 states. Although this production of The Tempest is staying right here in Olney, Maryland, the spirit of National Players is an integral part of the storytelling process. The actors bring their unique experiences and lessons from their years on the road, and we hope to emulate their dedication to audience enrichment through this supplemental guide. Hopefully, this Context Guide will broaden your understanding of the play and make it an even more comprehensive experience. Along with basic facts about The Tempest and insight into Shakespeare’s world, this guide includes interviews with National Players alum (pages 12 and 14) as well as a four-page activity section for younger audience members to enjoy. For even more information, please visit our dramaturgy blog at www.olneytempest.wordpress. com or reach out to us at education@olneytheatre.org.


ABOUT the Play O

ften labeled Shakespeare’s farewell to the stage, The Tempest offers a unique bookend to the playwright’s prolific career; although it was his last independently written play, his friends commemorated the work by including it as the opening play in the First Folio compendium of his works. Shakespeare probably wrote The Tempest in 1611 or late 1610 at the earliest. Although it is one of only three plays with no direct literary source, Shakespeare was influenced by the social and political climate of his day. He references, for example, reports from the 1609 shipwreck of the Sea Venture (see page 8), as well as popular commentaries on exploration and occultism. The play’s first recorded performance was on Hallowmass (November 1) 1601, “at Whitehall before King James; it was also one of the plays that the King’s Men performed for the wedding festivities of the Princess Elizabeth and the Elector Palatine in the winter of 1612. In fact, one theory holds that Shakespeare inserted the masque into the play as a surprise for the betrothed couple. Along with the distinction of being Shakespeare’s second-shortest play, The Tempest is one of two that adheres to Aristotle’s three classic unities. These include unity of action (a play should have one main action with limited subplots), unity of place (a play should cover a single physical space), and unity of time (the action in a play should take place over no more than 24 hours). From the mid-17th to mid-19th centuries, The Tempest was only staged in majorly adapted forms. The most popular reimagining of the play was William

Did you know?

S

hakespeare was very deliberate when he named his characters; in many cases, names reveal clues about characters’ personalities or histories. A few notable examples of hidden meanings behind names in The Tempest include: Prospero: Prosperous Miranda: Wonder Caliban: Cannibal Ferdinand: Brave journey Ariel: God’s lion Trinculo: To drink greedily Stephano: Belly or stomach Davenant and John Dryden’s 1667 Restoration adaptation, The Tempest, or, The Enchanted Island. This version, along a subsequent operatic adaptation, appealed to aristocratic sensibilities by emphasizing the story’s themes of class and social structure. It also made major cuts and additions, adding romantic subplots and characters while retaining less than a third of the original text. When the original story returned to the stage in the late 1800s, stagings began to reflect shifting political and social ideologies. Popular interest shifted to Ariel and Caliban and the nature of servitude; productions began infusing the play with Darwinist (Caliban as the “missing link”), psychoanalytic (Ariel as the superego and Caliban as the id), and post-colonial (Prospero stealing the island from and then enslaving its native inhabitants) theories. 3


The

WORLD of William Shakespeare

D

espite being history’s most produced and studied English playwright, little is known of William Shakespeare’s life. One of six siblings, Shakespeare was born in Stratford-upon-Avon on or about April 23, 1564. He married Anne Hathaway in 1582 and had three children. For the seven years after, Shakespeare fell off all record. Eventually, he arose in London and joined The Lord Chamberlain’s Men acting troupe. In 1603, when the troupe came into King James’ favor, they officially became The King’s Men. Shakespeare’s professional days are a mixture of fact and legend. In 1601, he and his business partners purchased property on the south bank of London’s Thames River, where they established The Globe Theatre. There, the acting company performed many of Shakespeare’s 38 plays. Famed for integrating elegant verse into equally compelling stories and dialogue, S h a ke s p e a r e ’s works are deep in metaphor, illusion, and character; sometimes even taking precedence over plot. He began his c a r e e r writing historical plays, bawdy 3

Did you know?

T

he original Globe Theatre burned down in 1613 during a performance of Henry VIII when a prop cannon caught fire, forcing 3,000 visitors to scurry outside for safety. Miraculously, everyone survived. According to an eyewitness account by Sir Henry Wotton, the only serious recorded injury was sustained by a poor fellow “breeches set on fire, that would perhaps have broyled him, if he had not...put it out with a bottle of ale.” comedies, and the occasional tragedy. Later in life, his plays became more structurally complex, featuring his iconic Hamlet and Macbeth and the curious tragicomedies Cymbeline and The Tempest. William Shakespeare died on or about April 23, 1616, and is interred at a chapel in Stratford-upon-Avon. Most early modern playwrights did not publish their work, but 18 of Shakespeare’s plays were printed before he died. Luckily, his plays survived because friends and colleagues commemorated his life in a publication known as the First Folio. A century after his death, questions began to arise; his birthdate, deathdate, and even the spelling of his name are in question. No definitive portrait exists of the man, and no government record lists his theatric profession. Many scholars have questioned the


ability of a minimally educated man to create such challenging writing. Some theorists have long held that “Shakespeare” was a nom de plume for another playwright, nobleman, or even collection of writers. However, the vast majority of scholars believe that unofficial documentation provides proof of Shakespeare’s existence and prolific abilities. Regardless, Shakespeare’s plays have been translated to 118 languages and are now in constant production around the world,

PERFORMANCE PRACTICES

T

he Globe Theatre was a circular wooden structure constructed of three stories of galleries (seats) surrounding a courtyard. The performance space had no front curtain, but was backed by a large wall with one to three doors out of which actors entered and exited. In front of the wall stood a roofed house-like structure supported by two large pillars, designed to provide a place for actors to “hide” when not in a scene. The roof of this structure was referred to as the “Heavens” and could be used for actor entrances. The theatre itself housed up to 3,000 spectators, mainly because a great number had to stand. The seats in the galleries were reserved for people from the upper classes who primarily came to the theatre to be prominently seen. Sometimes, wealthy patrons were even allowed to sit on or above the stage itself. The lower-class spectators, who came to be known as groundlings, stood in the open courtyard and watched the play on their feet. The groundlings were often loud and rambunctious during the performances and would eat, drink, shout at the actors, and socialize during the performance. Playwrights were therefore forced to incorporate lots of action and bawdy humor in their plays in order to keep the audience’s attention.

Although there are no surviving images of the original Globe, this illustration of the Swan Theatre serves as an example of what historians believe the theater looked like.

During Shakespeare’s day, new plays were written and performed continuously. A company of actors might receive a new play, prepare it, and perform it every week. Because of this, each actor in the company had specialized in one stock character that he could perform with little rehearsal. Such characters might include romantic lovers, tragic soldiers, fools and clowns, and women characters. Because women were not allowed to perform on the stage at the time, young boys whose voices had yet to change played the female characters in the shows. Other than a few pieces of stock scenery, like forest and palace backdrops, set pieces were very minimal. There was no artificial lighting to convey time and place, so it was up to audience to imagine what the full scene would look like. Because of this, the playwright was forced to describe the setting in greater detail than would normally be heard today. 5


The Age of

I

EXPLORATION

dentifying Prospero’s island on a geographical map has been a point of debate for centuries. According to the text, it is located in the Mediterranean, somewhere between Tunis in Africa and Naples in Italy. Prospero also mentions the “still-vexed bermooths,” (I.ii.230) to Ariel, alluding to the island of Bermuda. Still another reference in the text, Miranda’s remark, “Oh brave new world/ That has such people in it” (V.i.183) leads some to believe that the play is set in the New World, or North and South America. Regardless of what Shakespeare imagined when he invented Prospero’s world, however, it is clear that he was influenced, at least to some degree, by England’s expanding global empire, a period that is now called the Age of Exploration. England was relatively late to colonize the New World. From the late 15th to mid-16th century, Portugal and Spain dominated this period of expansion, laying claim to large portions of North and South America and the West Indies. England first reached the New World in 1497, when John Cabot journeyed to North America, but it was not until the 1570s and ‘80s that Queen Elizabeth I sent explorers to stifle further Spanish colonization and discover territories in England’s name. Official English stakes in the New World began when King James I took the throne in 1603, and in 1606, the first British colony was established in Virginia. Despite England’s growing reputation as a global powerhouse, news from the New World had the British people uneasy; reports of hostil6 ity from natives, disease, starva-

tion, and Spanish resistance circulated throughout England, sparking a heated debate about the value of further colonization. Shakespeare would have read and heard about this issue, and was likely influenced by firsthand accounts of voyages to the New World, especially reports from the infamous wreck of the Sea Venture.

THE SEA VENTURE In May 1609, nine ships carrying 500 hopeful colonists for John Smith’s colony in Virginia set sail for England. While most of the ships arrived safely in America, the ship carrying Sir Thomas Gates (meant to be the new governor of Virginia) and Admiral Sir George Somers, called the Sea Venture, became caught in a fierce sea storm on July 25 and landed on a Bermuda island. The ship was destroyed and everyone who reached Virginia assumed that the travelers on the Sea Venture had been lost at sea. Miraculously, everyone on board managed to survive. For three days and four nights, all hands—crew and passengers, noblemen and commoners— pumped, bailed, cast trunks and barrels overboard, and jettisoned much of the ship’s rigging, while sailors, lighting their way with candles, stuffed the leaking hull with whatever came to hand, even beef from the ship’s larder. Many distraught souls, resigned to a watery death, bid their friends farewell or took refuge in drink. But “it pleased God,” one survivor recalled, to push the Sea Venture within three-quarters of a mile of Bermuda, where it “fast lodged and locked” between coral boulders. All 150 passengers and crew rode the ship’s


boats to solid land. Prior to this shipwreck, Bermuda had been considered an island of devils, so the travelers were delighted and surprised to find themselves on an island that provided them with ample fresh fish, fowl, and water. They began making preparations to continue their journey to Virginia, building two new cedar boats in which they set sail, arriving in Virginia a year after they left England. News about the survivors traveled to London, and three documents, known as the Bermuda pamphlets, recorded their adventures. The most famous of the

For four and twenty hours the storm in a restless tumult, had blown so exceedingly, as we could not apprehend in our imaginations any possibility of greater violence, yet did we still find it, not only more terrible, but more constant, fury added to fury, and one storm urging a second more outrageous then the former; whether it so wrought upon our fears, or indeed met with new forces: Sometimes strikes in our Ship amongst women, and passengers, not used to such hurly and discomforts, made us look one upon the other with troubled hearts, and panting bosoms: our clamors drowned in the winds, and the winds in thunder.

A timeline of discovery 1492

Christopher Columbus “discovers” the New World for Spain

1497

John Cabot journeys to North America for England

1564 1577

Shakespeare is born

1584 1603

Englishman Francis Drake circumnavigates the globe Walter Raleigh tries, unsuccessfully, to establish an English colony in Virginia James IV of Scotland is crowned King James I of England following Elizabeth’s death

1606

England establishes a colony called Jamestown in Virginia.

1609

Nine ships leave to take colonists to Virginia, one of which is lost at sea and lands in Bermuda

1609

Survivors of the wreck arrive in Virginia and send accounts of their travels to England

1611

The Tempest is first

staged

7


A Brief

A

SYNOPSIS

s the play opens, a ship bearing the king of Naples and his retinue is caught in a storm. The ship wrecks on a rocky coast, where Prospero assures his dismayed daughter that the tempest was of his creation, and none aboard were harmed. He then tells Miranda of his past life: Formerly duke of Milan, Prospero allowed his affairs of state to lapse and instead devoted his time to studying magic and the liberal arts. Eventually, his dukedom was usurped by his wicked brother, Antonio, with the help of Alonso, the King of Naples. The conspirators set Prospero and Miranda adrift in a “rotten carcass of a boat,” where they would have perished except for the good counselor Gonzalo, who provisioned their craft with food, water, and Prospero’s beloved books. During their 12 years of exile, Prospero has perfected his magical arts, gained control of the various spirits and creatures that inhabit the island, and educated Miranda.

Ariel, a native spirit of the island, has been indentured to Prospero since he rescued her from years of imprisonment by the witch Sycorax. Prospero promises that he will release her if she helps him complete his plot against the Alonso and Antonio. Prospero then calls Caliban, another native of the island, whom Prospero raised and loved until he betrayed him. Prospero brings the voyagers safely ashore and scatters them in groups about the island. Ariel leads Ferdinand to Prospero’s cell—and Miranda, who has never seen a man other than Caliban and her father, is immediately smitten. Prospero intended that the two fall in love to secure a political connection

with Naples; to allay Miranda’s and Ferdinand’s instant passion for each other, he pretends to frown upon Ferdinand and sets him to work. On another part of the island, Alonso, his brother Sebastian, Antonio, and others wander sadly, convinced that the young Prince Ferdinand is dead. Ariel charms them with music, and all but Sebastian and Antonio are lulled to sleep. Antonio tries to convince Sebastian to kill Alonso, but Ariel wakes their intended victim just in time. On a third part of the island, Trinculo, the King’s jester, stumbles upon Caliban; he hides under the monster’s gabardine to escape the elements until the two are discovered by Stephano, the drunken butler. Caliban, delighted by Stephano’s “moon-liquor,” begs to be his slave and worshiper, and entreats him to overthrow Prospero and rule the island. Ariel, ever watchful, warns Prospero of their plot. Meanwhile Miranda and Ferdinand exchange vows of love, and Prospero blesses their engagement. Ariel then presents the King and his court with a lavish banquet which vanishes as soon as they try to eat, rebuking them for their crimes. Miranda and Ferdinand are treated to a prenuptial masque enacted by the spirits of Iris, Ceres, and Juno, until Prospero remembers Caliban’s plot against his life. Spellbound, everyone is drawn to Prospero’s cell, where he reveals himself as the wronged duke of Milan, forgives his persecutors, and bestows his blessings upon Gonzalo and the betrothed couple. Finally, he frees Ariel, promises to return to Milan, and renounces his magical powers.


CHARACTERS

Meet the

Brother of

Alonso

Sebastian

King of Naples

Only son of

In love with

Brother of

Trinculo

Court jester Companion of

Gonzalo

Antonio

Current Duke of Milan

Ferdinand

Boatswain and Adrian

Counselor to the King

Stephano Butler

Ally to

Follower of Only daughter of

Miranda

Servants to

Prospero

Rightful Duke of Milan

Unseen Characters Sycorax: Caliban’s deceased mother, imprisoner of Ariel; a practicer of black magic Claribel: Alonso’s daughter, recently married to the King of Tunis in Africa

Ariel

Spirit of the island

Caliban

Native of the island

9


Dr. John Dee

Prospero’s ‘So

[Magic is] the true philosophical method and harmony: proceeding and ascending, from thinges visible to consider of things invisible: from thinges bodily, to conceive of thinges spirituall...”

Although Shakespeare was probably familiar with various famous magi, Dr. John Dee provides the most direct parallels to Prospero, and many believe he was a model for the character. A respected advisor to Queen Elizabeth I, Dee was a renowned mathematician, astrologist, and cartographer, as well as magician. He was also famous for his 4,000 books and manuscripts (compare this to the University of Cambridge library, which had only 451 books). Dee fell out of favor with the royal court when James I took the throne, but unlike most of his contemporaries, he refused to renounce his connections with magic, choosing a life of poverty and exile over betraying his life’s work.

10

This woodcut from a 1620 edition of Ch Faustus, depicts the titular character sum wearing common symbols of Renaiss

D

uring the Renaissance, the line b almost interchangeable; a magu jects, including all the tenants of logic and rhetoric—and the quadrivium astronomy). Magi believed that there w with scholarly investigation and practic universe and come closer to God’s divi The Renaissance saw an immense r gan consulting ancient magical manusc revered for their wisdom and collectio many opponents to magical practice, E been familiar with magician characters have identified Prospero as a theurgist er who worked toward discovering God With his magic cloak, staff, and books, affairs, he fit the profile perfectly.


o Potent Art’

hristopher Marlowe’s famous play, Doctor mmoning the Devil from his magic circle, sance magic: a hat, cloak, and staff.

between science and magic was blurred, us was an expert on any number of subf the liberal arts (the trivium—grammar, m—arithmetic, geometry, music, and was one essential path to truth, that ce, humans could crack the code of the inity. resurgence in the occult. Scholars becripts, and the greatest of magi were on of ancient texts. Although there were Early Modern audiences would have s from other popular plays. They would t, or practicer of White Magic, a practicd’s secrets through the study of nature. as well as his disinterest in worldly

Opposition and Decline

“ Alchemists grow old and die in the embraces of their illusion... It is pride that has brought men to such a pitch of madness that they prefer to commune with their own spirits rather than with the spirit of nature.” — Frances Bacon Although magicians claimed they were working within the Christian doctrine, they faced opposition on the grounds that they were committing blasphemy. Before James I (below) ascended the throne in 1603, he had already begun his active persecution against witchcraft and sorcery with a published manifesto against witchcraft entitled Daemonology—in his eyes, there was no difference between white and black magic. Nearly every famous magician denounced his powers during James’ reign, resulting the near eradication of occultism by the mid 16th century.

11


Actor Q&A

JACOB MUNDELL

Tell me about your decision to join National Players. I joined National Players because before last year I was more well-traveled outside of the country than I was inside of the country. It’s amazing for a young actor because this is one of the longest contracts that’s avail- able. I was so relieved that last year it stepped up to a three show season, because it gives you more challenge, variety, responsibility. You get three credits, a year of work, and you get nine months to work on roles that

Rendering for Trinculo, by costume designer Pei Lee

6

you improve upon as time goes by. What’s the most bizarre story from your tour? I didn’t want to think that I would be subject to the Scottish curse. I thought I would get away with it. I totally didn’t. The night before our first venue I went jogging at night and sprained my ankle—and that was before we performed the Scottish play on Friday the 13th. Everyone pooled in all their prescription pain killers and I did the show high on pain killers. And right in the middle of “Tomorrow and tomorrow and tomorrow,” a bat flew at me, just swooped at me, and I had to dodge it onstage and incorporate it into the performance. But now I have my own curse story. What’s the biggest lesson you learned on tour? You can’t plan anything. That’s an acting lesson that I thought Ii had under wraps, that you have to willingly embrace the moments sat hey come, but that’s a life lesson too: You have to have an extreme amount of emotional flexibility... Facing the coming avalanche with arms open wide isn’t just an acting lesson, but a life lesson. You’re returning to join Tour 66 for another year on the road. Can you tell me about that decision? A professor told me that whenever you get a job offer, you have to ask yourself three questions: Will I have fun? Will it be good for my career? And will I make money? You only have to answer yes to two of those questions, but I can answer all three. I’m going to have loads of fun touring the country


Player Profile Role in The Tempest: Trinculo Tour: 65 and 66 Years on the road: 2013 - 2015 Roles on tour: Macbeth (Macbeth); Duke/Balthazar/ Pinch (The Comedy of Errors); Perimedes (Odyssey) again, hopefully paying a little more attention to the places this time. It’s going to be great for my career. I got to ask for the part that I wanted in the show I wanted to do, and it’s three brand new shows under my belt. And the money is just as good. Is there any special bond that stretches across Player generations? The universal Player brotherhood is not unlike the universal actor brotherhood. On one of the first days of rehearsal, Craig Wallace [Prospero] said the thing that’s crazy about tour—and he acted this out for me—is they put you on a raft, push you out to sea, and they say “Alright, if something goes wrong, fix it.” And that is kind of what it’s like; once you’re out there, it’s ten of you out on a raft and you’ve got to make it work. And it’s always fun to trade stories. Players from all tours either share stories about being in trouble or stories about bad load-ins. Have you gained any wisdom from the older players while working on The Tempest? They don’t talk down to us in that way, and I think it’s because they know that Players is an experience you have

to discover yourself. They sympathize, they tell their own stories, and they give general advice like “Keep an open mind” and “Choose love over hate,” but they know there’s nothing they can do to prepare anyone for tour. And I know that as well. What is it like playing a comedic role? Are there any challenges or rewards that you’ve discovered while tackling Trinculo? Pei Lee [costume designer for The Tempest and Tour 65] knows me as an actor, and she knows to give me lots of props. This year, she loaded me up with this arsenal of ridiculous stuff. I have a tutu, a white board on my chest, mime makeup—and I have this puppet. The puppet was a challenge because I wanted to endow it at first and I spent a lot of rehearsal time working on choices for the puppet that didn’t make it into the show. It was a challenge because I had to realize that the puppet’s not a person; what’s interesting about theater is humanity, and this sock puppet is funny, it’s a gag, but it doesn’t have humanity. It’s also challenging because Trinculo has his own emotional arc. It’s easy to get lost in comedy and the gags, but that’s not truth. You should focus on the characters’ stakes and their wishes, hopes, and dreams, and through that the comedy will come through. For you, what is The Tempest about? The Tempest is about the life that you put yourself into. We get thrown on this deserted island, but the first thing we do is create a social structure. It might be too broad and general to say it’s about choice, because every play is about choice, but what resonates with me is that when you get ripped away from society you try to cram yourself into it again somehow. So The Tempest is about how we shape our lives with the choices we make based on safety and freedom.


Actor Q&A

JULIE-ANN ELLIOT

Tell me about your decision to join National Players. There were two reasons I wanted to go on tour. I was in the graduate program at Catholic University, and Bill Graham was head of the MFA acting program and chair of the department at the time. One of the reasons I went to grad school was for classical training, and while we did have a classical acting class, it didn’t feel like enough. It seemed intimidating and untouchable because it was that thing that I had never done. I was also very close with some people who had been on tour prior to coming to Catholic, so I had all of their fraternal stories which seemed wonderful and inviting, and you were a part of this huge brother-sisterhood, and I wanted to be a part of that. What was it like playing two roles back-to-back for a year, and did you get the training that you wanted? I feel like I did. I had some classical training at Catholic, and Mr. Graham was our acting coach for the Players as well, but this was much more intensive. So yes, you have to grow, and you have to know what you’re doing enough to keep within the boundaries of the direction. You have to know two versions of both shows, so you have to know the text inside and out and be able to make the jumps you need to. To me, it was more important to think about how to approach the characters and tell the story. You need to know what the language means and you need to make it feel like your own, and I was more concerned with that than scanning and marking. What’s the biggest lesson you 6 learned as a Player?

Player Profile Role in The Tempest: Ariel Tour: XX Years on the road: Roles on tour: Rosalind (As You Like It); Ma Joad (Grapes of Wrath)

The actors are loading and unloading the truck, and we all had to put the set together, we all had to screw the lights on the truss, so everybody is a part of the whole process. One of the big things is learning how to be a part of a team, knowing you’ve got a job to do and everybody has to do their part. I’ve gone into theaters with bigger budgets and with people who’ve always worked equity or don’t remember not working equity, and there’s an expectation that things will always be taken care of. Although I often have those expectations myself, being a Player puts you in the mindset of “We have a job to do and we’re going to make it work.” Do you feel any special bond among Player alumni, even though you’re from different tours? It’s funny, I do. There’s this oral history, so immediately there’s a sense of community that you fit into. Even though there are different generations, there’s a lot of shared vocabulary, so I do think there’s a bit of a psychic and


emotional link, which goes back to why I wanted to go on tour—you feel that energy and you want to be a part of it. Can you talk about working alongside younger National Players, and the mentorship process? It’s great. It’s funny because in the moment because I don’t think about us being separate: We’re all players, just different ages. There’s a lot of positive energy in the room and everybody’s very creative. It goes back to having that shared history, you feel like you have the freedom to make suggestions or come up with ideas, and that expands to the mentorship without thinking about it. You see somebody do something and you say, “Oh, if you really hit this word, that will make that clear,” so you talk about things you might have more experience with, but it just comes up in a natural conversation. Director Jason King Jones said that he wanted an Ariel who could stand up to Prospero, a spirit who wields significant power. Why do you think that interpretation is important, and how has it influenced your performance? When I was first contacted to come in and read for Jason, I was surprised, because I always thought of Ariel as this very young and spritely character, very subservient—I had seen productions where it was easy to tell who was in charge. So in my audition, Jason said, “Here’s what I’m thinking: What if there’s more of a balance between Prospero and Ariel?” And that, to me, is so much more interesting. I’m always attracted to being the strong character who affects othRendering for Ariel, by costume designer Pei Lee

ers as opposed to someone who just says “yes sir” and goes off to do their bidding. And there’s nothing in the play that contradicts it. You go through the text, and there’s no moment where it doesn’t work. As opposed to being a lesser being than Prospero, Ariel has an honor-bound duty, which to me is so much more interesting. To you, what is The Tempest about? I used to think it was about revenge and forgiveness. Now I think it’s about forgiveness and letting go. Certainly I’ve experienced that in figuring out Ariel’s journey. And in the way we’ve set up the relationship with Prospero, it’s not just him letting go, it’s Ariel letting go too.


Word Search

‘All lost, quite lost’

Prospero has scattered his shipwrecked guests throughout the island, but as Act Five draws near, Ariel needs to gather all the lost Neopolitans to the center of her master’s island. Help Ariel find these missing characters by searching for their names in this puzzle; they are hidden vertically, horizontally, backwards, and diagonally. When you’ve found everyone in the name bank, the remaining letters in the first few lines will reveal another character who has wandered off and needs to be brought to Prospero.

C T R I N C U L O A D N A N I D R E F L I B A N A L O N S O U O N N W S I X K W R B W D S Z R L O U O I N O T N A L U M E D Q N A I R D A M T T O L A Z N O G Q E Z I P B O G O D J S T E P H A N O S A

Ferdinand Antonio Alonso Gonzalo 16

NAME BANK

Stephano Trinculo Boatswain Adrian

Hidden Message:


Mad-Libs

‘Speak this Speech’

Although The Tempest is Shakespeare’s second-shortest play, most of the characters have at least one speech, which they deliver to the audience in an aside, or to another character. Below, you can make your own Shakespearian monologue using speech of Caliban’s. To make this mad-lib activity even more fun, ask a friend or family member to provide suggestions, fill in the blanks, and let the monologue unfold. CALIBAN, Act III scene ii Be not

emotion

Sounds and

. The

adjective

Sometimes

number Will hum about mine

place

is full of noises,

airs that give delight and hurt not. twangling

noun, plural , and sometime voices body part That, if I then had waked after long , noun Will make me again; and then, in dreaming, verb The

methought would open, and show noun, plural Ready to drop upon me, that when I waked, noun

I cried to

verb

again.

Scavenger Hunt

‘Say what thou seest yond’

Look around the Root Family Stage and this Context Guide to find answers to these clues: 1. The number of umbrellas onstage: 2. The number of umbrellas in this Context Guide: 3. The year The Tempest was first performed: 4. The name of Caliban’s mother: 5. The National Players tour that Julie-Anne Elliot (Ariel) was on: 6. The number of books that the famous magus Dr. John Dee had in his library: 7. The number of lawn chairs you spot outside: 17


­’sMagic Book Although we never see Prospero’s book, we know it contains many of the secrets to his magical powers. If you had a magic book, what kinds of spells and potions might you include? Use these two blank pages to draw, write, scribble, and imagine the contents of your own book...and if you think of anything really exciting, take a picture and share it on Olney Theatre Center’s Facebook page!

17 18


18 19


Still curious? Watch, listen, and read more at www.olneytempest. wordpress.com.

This context guide was compiled and designed by Maegan Clearwood, Dramaturgy Apprentice, and Jason King Jones, Associate Artistic Director and Director of Education, 2014

Context Guide for "The Tempest"  

An audience context guide for Olney Theater Center's 2014 production of William Shakespeare's "The Tempest."

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