STEEDS adds comedy, female voices to The Tempest

What happens when you mix strong winds, heavy rain, shipwrecked royals and a modern twist? The St. Thomas Early English Drama Society’s new production of The Tempest.

The play combines the original Shakespearean text with some modern updates and is a humorous take on an old classic.

Director MacKenzie Currie, a fourth-year English major, had her sights set on this show since her first year at St. Thomas University.

“In first year, I kind of had this dream of doing The Tempest because I read it in class, and I thought ‘Maybe someday,”’ she said.

Four years later, now directing the STEEDS’ adaptation, that dream is coming true.

The production brought out more of the comedic elements from the original script and has more female voices among its cast of characters. (Alex Dascalu/AQ)

The Tempest follows the story of Prospero, a powerful sorcerer, and his daughter Miranda, who have been stranded on an island for 12 years with a monster named Caliban. With the help of a spirit named Ariel, Prospero conjures a powerful storm to shipwreck his old enemies on the island as a plot of magic and revenge unfolds.

Most wouldn’t call the play a comedy, but Currie saw it differently.

“When I first read it, I thought there was a lot of comedic elements, a revenge plot, a love story and I didn’t want it to be depressing.”

Usually there is only one female character, Miranda, in the show. However, Currie realized early on she could make the changes she felt were necessary to some of the scripts outdated themes.

“So I said, ‘You know what? Let’s put a little more women into this. Let’s give them the roles that they deserve.’”

The Tempest follows the story of Prospero, a powerful sorcerer, and his daughter Miranda, who have been stranded on an island for 12 years with a monster named Caliban. (Alex Dascalu/AQ)

Currie made the role of Prospero into a female role instead of the traditional male role, and altered some text to remove outdated and derogatory language.

“We have changed a few relationships in the play to give the women more power than they are given originally in the texts,” said Fredericton High School student Megan Murphy.

Murphy plays the character of Miranda and said the updates are empowering and that she appreciates the kind and bold nature of her character.

“In our adaptation Miranda is someone that I admire.”

The play was performed on a minimalist stage design which prominently featured trash, as did the costumes. Currie said this was a purely directorial choice and a commentary on the trash-covered islands that are a result of human pollution.

The Tempest ran for three shows on Jan. 17 and 18 in STU’s Ted Daigle Auditorium. (Alex Dascalu/AQ)

“I wanted to incorporate the trash with their costumes so Miranda had trash in her hair and Caliban being made out of trash and living in a trash cave,” said Currie.

“I wanted to show how Prospero and Miranda and Caliban were all forced to adapt to the trash island.”

This directorial choice was one of the ways in which Currie hoped to bring Shakespeare into the modern era.

Currie just hopes everyone enjoyed the shows on Jan. 17 and 18.

“I want the actors to have fun, I want the audience to have fun and I want to have fun.”

 

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