A Lynchburg theatre company promises Shakespeare’s The Tempest “as you’ve never seen it before” at Randolph College starting next week, just in time for the play’s 400th anniversary.
The Wolfbane Productions show on the Thoresen Theatre stage combines Celtic music and dancing with computer-animated graphics to spin a tale of treachery, revenge, love, forgiveness and magic. Thought to be one of Shakespeare’s last plays—probably the last that he wrote on his own—The Tempest symbolizes the culmination of the playwright’s career, said Ken Parks, a Randolph College theatre.
“It pulls together everything that came before,” said Parks.
Dustin Williams, the founder of Wolfbane Productions, has been adapting Shakespeare’s script since his first year at Lynchburg College. He changed the main character from Prospero, the exiled Duke of Milan, to Prospera, the exiled wife of the late duke. Ever since hearing Loreena McKennitt’s song “Prospero’s Speech,” which takes it lyrics from the play’s epilogue, Williams has felt that Prospero should be a female role, he said.
Other than that change, Williams only cut from the script to make the flow better for a two-act, 90-minute show, he said.
Williams approached Parks about performing a Wolfbane show in the Thoresen Theatre last year, but the stage was booked for college shows, Parks said.
“I was really eager to get them in this year,” said Parks. “We, as a department, have been looking for ways to get better use out of our space when we’re not doing productions.”
In Wolfbane’s performance of The Tempest, Prospera summons a storm to seek revenge against Alonso, king of Naples (played by Parks), and Antonio, who have banished her to an island. After the betrayers are shipwrecked, Alonso’s son falls in love with Prospera’s daughter Miranda. By the end, they reach reconciliation and forgiveness.
Forgiveness is the focus of this performance, making it unique, said Kim Willard, who plays Prospera.
“Rather than focus on the negative aspects or the scariness, the central theme is in Prospero’s line, ‘ the rarer action is in virtue than in vengeance,’” Willard said. “It’s about forgiveness. It’s about terrible wrongs being done, and revenge not being satisfying.”
“You see the human in Prospera come through,” Williams said. “Despite how evil people can be, she forgives them.”
The Tempest will be performed at 8 p.m. on Aug. 24 – 27 and Sept. 1 – 3, and 3 p.m. on Aug. 28 and Sept. 4. Tickets, available online, cost $12 for adults and $8 for students. All performances will be in the Thoresen Theatre, in the Leggett Building.
Here is the trailer for the show: