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Nov. 1, 2011
By Brittany Keithley, media relations assistant
When the curtain rises on Theatre Northwest’s production of William Shakespeare’s “The Tempest” during two weekends this month, audiences will see a new approach that is the result of a collaborative effort by students.
The production opens at 7:30 p.m. Friday, Nov. 11, and continues with performances at 7:30 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 12, Friday, Nov. 18, and Saturday, Nov. 19, and 2 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 13, and Sunday, Nov. 20, in the Studio Theater at the Ron Houston Center for the Performing Arts.
Tickets are $8 and can be reserved by calling 660.562.1321. Tickets also are available at the door on a first-come, first-served basis. Seating is limited.
“The Tempest,” directed by Amanda Petefish-Schrag, assistant professor of communication, theatre and languages, follows the exiled Duke of Milan, Prospero, who has spent years perfecting his magic and plotting revenge. When he learns that a ship bearing his old enemies is sailing near his island, he raises a torrential storm, bringing within his grasp the enemies who robbed him of his dukedom. Filled with humor, romance and adventure, “The Tempest” proves a timeless story of redemption and new beginnings.
Petefish-Schrag is focusing on the themes of creation within the text, taking an organic approach to the development of the play. Meanwhile, the actors, in addition to creating their own roles, have created the “island,” the sounds, music and all special effects for the production.
“What we’ve really done on the production is try to take the simplest elements possible and give those to the actors and see how they can use those elements to create a vibrant story,” Petefish-Schrag said. “It was a process of saying, ‘How do we as a company want to tell this story?’ and then really approach the text assuming the actors were full collaborators – as opposed to fulfilling a concept that already existed before they were a part of the process.”
In an effort to make Shakespeare accessible to the audience, Erika Baker, who plays the island creature Caliban, looked beyond the script to develop an atmosphere the audience could understand.
”I feel we are making Shakespeare available to the audience by focusing on making the language clear, both in inflection and in the body,” said Baker, a senior theater major from Cameron. “We are also not taking Shakespeare too seriously. By this I mean that we are seeing the world of ‘The Tempest’ for what it is, instead of overdoing things because of the stigma the name Shakespeare carries.”
Eli Purdom, who plays Sebastian, enjoyed the opportunity to not only work in a Shakespeare play but also the process of making the script relevant to a contemporary audience.
“It has been a very good learning experience getting to know the characters and Shakespeare's intents without the usual pomp and frills that traditional Shakespearean shows have,” said Eli Purdom, a sophomore theater performance major from Independence. “I think we're taking a piece of artwork and breaking it down to its most raw and visceral components.”
Mark Hornickel, Communication Manager
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Northwest Missouri State University
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