Monday, 2 March 2009

Tempestuous times.....

This production of The Tempest was quite simply a breathtaking piece of theatre. It was almost as if Shakespeare had written it with recent South African history in mind. In reality this interpretation is a fine example of how contemporary his works remain.

The puppetry and music add much and blend seamlessly with the plot - not once did they appear gratuitous or overbearing, although in the first few minutes I did wonder if I had come to see The Lion King meets William Shakespeare.

I agree with Treesparrow, Caliban was portrayed humanely at the expense of his traditional monstrosity. Prospero simply seems to be berating a venerable farmhand, rather than the attempted rapist of his daughter. Finally Caliban is left alone on his own island.

This production wears its heart firmly on its sleeve, it is undeniably impressive to see an African company celebrating the continent’s own traditions by appropriating Shakespeare in the playwright’s own birthplace.

The memorial theatre is currently undergoing redevelopment and as such is surrounded by the mandatory health and safety paraphernalia. I particularly like this one with a still from The Taming of the Shrew - passion comes to the streets of Stratford!

A general view of the extensive remodelling of the memorial theatre.

The Courtyard Theatre will be the temporary home of the RSC until 2010. It is a fine theatre in its own right - even though it has been compared to watching Shakespeare in the middle of an IKEA store.

A view along the Avon to Holy Trinity church - place of Shakespeare's grave.


  1. I'm glad you enjoyed it. I live but 30mins drive from Stratford, so fortunate that RSC is my 'local' theatre. I had an interesting discussion with my friend on the night I went asking or trying to think what 'modern' day plays would last as long as Shakespeares or be so adaptable to different cultures/genres? Something about his work makes it so timeless.

  2. I'm so glad you posted more on this. So fun to see the photos of the charming theater. You must update us with a post on the finished building next yeat.

  3. Lovely glimpse of current "homes" for Shakespeare. In my days of theatrical participation I frequently was involved in costuming Shakespearean plays. Always cheaper to do them in modern dress but so much more fun in full costume. The African attire looks like great fun.

  4. Treesparrow...what a great discussion topic! Last may I saw a production of To Kill a Mockingbird. It was performed partly on the grounds and partly inside the courtroom in Monroeville, AL just a few blocks from Harper Lee's home. I would offer this play as a contender for a story for the ages.
    Michael, thank you for the Shakespeare report!
    If you get a chance, look up the Alabama Shakespeare Festival in Montgomery, AL. I think you will be pleasantly surprised!

  5. Hello Michael,

    Glad you enjoyed your evening and the interpretation of the play. Sometimes, unexpected things can bring Shakespeare's words to life in a way that reading them on the page does not. It's good when that happens!