KEENE, N.H. -- "The Tempest," a Shakespearean romantic comedy, will be presented by Keene State Theatre and Dance from Wednesday to Saturday, Feb. 27 to March 2, at 7:30 p.m., in the Main Theatre of the Redfern Arts Center at Keene State College.
Tickets are $10 for adults, $8 for senior citizens and youth, and $6 for Keene State students. For tickets, call the Box Office at 603-358-2168 or visit www.keene.edu/racbp.
KSC theatre faculty member PeggyRae Johnson directs the play that she describes as a romantic comedy with a message about a parent’s concern, support and love for a child. She adapted the play to run 90 minutes without intermission by rewriting the first scene to explain why the main character Prospero, the banished Duke of Milan and a magician, conjures up a storm to bring people to the island where he has been banished with his daughter for 12 years.
"I wanted to explore the question of why on one day does someone who has spent decades of his life mastering the magical arts, break his magic staff and destroy his magical books," said Johnson. "All of the magic he has learned cannot give him immortality, and he has to make a choice about his daughter Miranda’s future."
Prospero realizes his own mortality and the fact that Miranda would be alone on the island with the monster Caliban. So, Prospero casts spells to create a tempest, causing a shipwreck of the enemies who caused his banishment; the son of one of those enemies becomes Miranda’s love interest.
"The Tempest" is considered the last play written solely by Shakespeare. Following this play, he co-wrote two others, working as a mentor to apprentice John Fletcher. The adaptation will allow students, who are more familiar with Shakespeare as literature, to experience the play as theater, especially the first-year students reading "The Tempest" as part of KSC’s Keene is Reading text for new students.
Johnson places the action on the island of Haiti, rather than the Bermudas, where historically the Sea Venture capsized in a storm on its way to Jamestown in 1609, a year before Shakespeare penned "The Tempest." Everyone was presumed dead on board, but a year later the ship, repaired by the stranded crew, sailed into Jamestown with most hands on deck. This real life event likely was an inspiration for Shakespeare’s play. Johnson was inspired to use Haiti as the setting for this production to bring focus to a place where people are still suffering -- homeless and abandoned like Prospero and Miranda -- after an earthquake and hurricanes, most recently Sandy, which further devastated the island before flooding New York City and the New Jersey coast.
The cast is headed by KSC Theatre Professor Daniel Patterson of Keene, N.H., as Prospero and student Ryan Connell of Greenfield, Mass., as Miranda. KSC theatre alumni Chris Kelly, who resides in Peterborough, N.H., is in the cast along with community members Abigail Gill, who is a student at Monadnock Regional High School in Swanzey, N.H., and understudy Cindy Cheshire, a staff member at the Newman Center in Keene, N.H.
Other KSC students in the cast are: Will Adams of Avon, Conn.; Lynsey Beatrice of Sutton, Mass.; Abbie Brown of Dublin, N.H.; Dan Bullard of Bangor, Maine; Elissa Fredeen of Monroe, Conn.; Cara Gerardi of Dennis, Mass.; Michelle Hayes of Boylston, Mass.; Aaron Howland of Winchester, N.H.; Matthew McDougal of Keene, N.H.; Molly Millard of Barrington, R.I.; and Katherine Wadleigh of Hollis, N.H. Katie Knox of Windsor, Vt., is an understudy. Jillian Strazzere of Wilmington, Mass., is the stage manager. Arienne Stearns of Milford, N.H., and Rebecca Yankowitz of Glastonbury, Conn., are assistant stage managers.