Monthly Archives: June 2009
• At the outset, Prospero is preparing not to forgive his enemies but to destroy them. Or perhaps he intends reconciliation, yet every instinct is moving toward revenge.
• Ariel is also making a journey: this element of nature is taking on human sensibility. “Do you love me, master, no?” is a mark along this path: like Miranda earlier, he is intensely curious what this human emotion is. Here, he’s not feeling empathy as we might, but he can stretch his being to envision it. And this is the crucial tipping point for Prospero.
• For Prospero, this is the act of relinquishment: giving up his revenge, his wounding, and at last his power: the restoration of his dukedom is now a relinquishment of true power and an acceptance of duty. Finally he confronts Caliban and acknowledges him as part of his essence. This can’t be explained with any linear interpretation: it simply resonates with us in its mystery.
• The practical problem of accumulating 12 characters on stage with five actors to play them: I’m drawing here somewhat from the play’s overtones as a metaphor of theatre or “Shakespeare’s farewell to the stage,” not as the ultimate meaning of the play but simply as another resonance. Prospero is, in a sense, the master puppeteer, and at the end of the play he has played out the play, and indeed the actors “were all spirits, and are melted into air,” leaving only their puppets. And so as the act concludes, as each character finishes his role, the puppet head is placed on a stand (treelike forms with artificial hands), as if simply fading back into the mosaic (thereby freeing the puppeteer to bring on another character). And, at the end, Prospero’s own puppet character joins the assembly, and the actor removes the magical robe the human Prospero has worn throughout this five-act magical ceremony. The epilogue then brings me down to my own street clothes. The play has dissolved.
5:1—THE MAGICIAN READIES THE DESTRUCTION OF HIS ENEMIES AND INSTEAD HEALS HIMSELF.
01- Video: moving clouds and flames. ECHO OF THE TEMPEST. Spirits move stands with hand shapes to places around the stage.
Prospero in his magic robe in far R stage, standing at the magic book, turning pages. Ariel (BS) appears far L.
>>>Prospero: Now does my Project gather to a head:
>>>My charms crack not: my Spirits obey, and Time
>>>Goes upright with his carriage: how’s the day?
>>>Ariel: On the sixth hour, at which time, my Lord
>>>You said our work should cease.
>>>Prospero: I did say so,
>>>When first I rais’d the Tempest: Say, my Spirit,
>>>How fares the King, and’s followers?
02- Ariel disappears, reappears Far R (AA/JB) by Prospero. Video: shadows of the four courtiers. Periodic spasmodic shifts in unison, sense of agony.
>>>Ariel: Confin’d together
>>>In the same fashion, as you gave in charge,
>>>Just as you left them; all prisoners Sir
>>>In the Lime-grove which weather-fends your Cell,
>>>They cannot budge till your release: The King,
>>>His Brother, and yours, abide all three distracted,
>>>Brimful of sorrow and dismay; but chiefly
>>>Him, that you term’d Sir, The good old Lord Gonzalo,
>>>His tears run down his beard like winter’s drops
>>>From eaves of reeds: your charm so strongly works’em
>>>That if you now beheld them, your affections
>>>Would become tender.
>>>Prospero: Dost thou think so, Spirit?
Pause. Prospero leans to Ariel, speaks with him in unison.
>>>Ariel: Mine would, Sir, were I human.
Pause. Change point for Prospero. Video fades.
>>>Prospero: And mine shall.
>>>Hast thou (which art but air) a touch, a feeling
>>>Of their afflictions, and shall not myself,
>>>One of their kind, that relish all as sharply,
>>>Passion as they, be kindlier mov’d than thou art?
>>>Though with their high wrongs I am struck to the quick,
>>>Yet, with my nobler reason, ’gainst my fury
>>>Do I take part: the rarer Action is
>>>In virtue, than in vengeance: they, being penitent,
>>>The sole drift of my purpose doth extend
>>>Not a frown further: Go, release them Ariel,
>>>My Charms I’ll break, their senses I’ll restore,
>>>And they shall be themselves.
03- Ariel disappears, reappears far L.
>>>Ariel: I’ll fetch them, Sir.
04- Disappears. Prospero into Center, inscribes a circle around himself. Then addresses front, formal invocation. Images. During this, he builds in intensity.
>>>Prospero: Ye elves of hills, brooks, standing lakes and groves,
>>>And ye, that on the sands with printless foot
>>>Do chase the ebbing Neptune, and do fly him
>>>When he comes back: you demi-Puppets, that
>>>By Moonshine do the green sour Ringlets make,
>>>Whereof the Ewe not bites: and you, whose pastime
>>>Is to make midnight Mushrooms, that rejoice
>>>To hear the solemn Curfew, by whose aid
>>> (Weak Masters though ye be) I have bedimm’d
>>>The Noontide Sun, call’d forth the mutinous winds,
>>>And ‘twixt the green Sea, and the azur’d vault
>>>Set roaring war: to the dread rattling Thunder
>>>Have I given fire, and rifted Jove’s stout Oak
>>>With his own Bolt: The strong-bas’d promontory
>>>Have I made shake, and by the spurs pluck’d up
>>>The Pine, and Cedar. Graves at my command
>>>Have wak’d their sleepers, op’d, and let’em forth
>>>By my so potent Art.
Back into control. Images fade into blurred colors.
>>> But this rough Magic
>>>I here abjure: and when I have requir’d
>>>Some heavenly Music (which even now I do)
>>>To work mine end upon their Senses, that
>>>This Airy charm is for, I’ll break my staff,
>>>Bury it certain fathoms in the earth,
>>>And deeper than did ever Plummet sound
>>>I’ll drown my book.
At the far R, the book (AA) closes itself.
05- Prospero inscribes a circle a second time. Alonso, Sebastian, Antonio and Gonzalo (JF & AA) rise around him in center, frozen: Gonzalo DR, Alonso DL, Ant UR, Seb UL
>>>A solemn Air, and the best comforter, ,
>>>To an unsettled fancy, Cure thy brains
>>> (Now useless) boil’d within thy skull: there stand
>>>For you are Spell-stopp’d.
>>>The charm dissolves apace,
>>>And as the morning steals upon the night,
>>> (Melting the darkness) so their rising senses
>>>Begin to chase the ignorant fumes that mantle
>>>Their clearer reason. Spirit;
>>>Thou shalt ere long be free.
06- Prospero steps outside the circle, far R. The quartet shifts to new positions within the circle – Spirits visible holding them. Ariel (JB), in his Nymph persona, sings, moves to each one, as if waking them.
>>>Ariel: Where the Bee sucks, there suck I,
>>>In a Cowslip’s bell, I lie,
>>>There I couch when Owls do cry,
>>>On the Bat’s back I do fly
>>>After Summer merrily.
>>>Merrily, merrily, shall I live now,
>>>Under the blossom that hangs on the Bough.
>>>Prospero: Why, that’s my dainty Ariel: I shall miss thee,
>>>But yet thou shalt have freedom: so, so, so,
>>>To the King’s ship, invisible as thou art,
>>>There shalt thou find the Mariners asleep
>>>Under the Hatches: enforce them to this place.
Ariel disappears from C, reappears far L (BS).
>>>Ariel: I drink the air before me, and return
>>>Or e’er your pulse twice beat.
Ariel off. [JB takes over Antonio & Sebastian, so Gonz and Alonso are free.] Gonzalo wanders DS in a fog. [BS hands new Prospero puppet to CB, then takes over Sebastian.]
>>>Gonzalo: All torment, trouble, wonder, and amazement
>>>Inhabits here: some heavenly power guide us
>>>Out of this fearful Country.
07- Prospero brings up new puppet DR, clothed in court dress, to confront the group, who coalesce UL.
>>>Prospero: Behold sir King,
>>>The wronged Duke of Milan, Prospero:
08A- Sudden group movement: puppets are lifted and transported by Spirits, visible, to new groupings, as if regrouped according to Prospero’s will. They’re not quite aware of this, only of the startle and the disorientation. Sharp shift: Prospero X DC, Alonso DRC.
>>>For more assurance that a living Prince
>>>Does now speak to thee, I embrace thy body,
>>>And to thee, and thy Company, I bid
>>>A hearty welcome.
Prospero puppet embraces Alonso.
>>>Alonso: Whe’r thou beest he or no, thy Pulse
>>>Beats as of flesh, and blood:
>>>Th’ affliction of my mind amends, with which
>>>I fear, a madness held me: I do entreat
>>>Thou pardon me my wrongs:
Alonso kneels. Prospero puppet raises him.
>>>But how should Prospero
>>>Be living, and be here?
>>>Prospero: First, noble Friend,
08B- Sharp shift: Gonzalo DLC, Antonio & Sebastian UL, Alonso UR, Prospero DC.
>>>Let me embrace thine age, whose honour cannot
>>>Be measur’d, or confin’d.
>>>Gonzalo: Whether this be,
>>>Or be not, I’ll not swear.
>>>Prospero: You do yet taste
>>>Some subtilties o’ the Isle, that will not let you
>>>Believe things certain: Welcome, all,
08C- Sharp shift: Gonzalo UR, Alonso UL, Sebastian DL, Antonio DRC, Sebastian DLC. Prospero between them.
>>>But you, my brace of Lords, were I so minded
>>>I here could pluck his Highness’ frown upon you
>>>And justify you Traitors: at this time
>>>I will tell no tales.
Sebastian backs away DL. Prospero to Antonio:
>>>Sebastian: The Devil speaks in him:
>>>For you (most wicked Sir) whom to call brother
>>>Would even infect my mouth, I do forgive
>>>Thy rankest fault; all of them: and require
>>>My Dukedom of thee, which, perforce I know
>>>Thou must restore.
Spirit (JB, operator of Antonio) emerges, takes medallion from Antonio’s neck, gives it to Prsopero. Antonio quivering violently, then violently controls himself.
08D- Sharp shift: Alonso DL; Gonzalo, Antonio and Sebastian UR, Alonso DC to Prospero. [Antonio & Sebastian placed on stands.]
>>>Alonso: If thou beest Prospero
>>>Give us particulars of thy preservation,
>>>How thou hast met us here, who three hours since
>>>Were wrack’d upon this shore? where I have lost
>>>(How sharp the point of this remembrance is)
>>>My dear son Ferdinand.
>>>Prospero: I am woe for’t, Sir.
>>>Alonso: Irreparable is the loss, and patience
>>>Says, it is past her cure.
>>>Prospero: I rather think
>>>You have not sought her help, of whose soft grace
>>>For the like loss, I have her sovereign aid,
>>>And rest myself content.
>>>Alonso: You the like loss?
>>>Prospero: As great to me, for I
>>>Have lost my daughter.
>>>Alonso: A daughter?
>>>O heavens, that they were living both in Naples
>>>The King and Queen there, that they were, I wish
>>>Myself were mudded in that oozy bed
>>>Where my son lies: when did you lose your daughter?
>>>Prospero: In this last Tempest. But, howsoe’er you have
>>>Been justled from your senses, know for certain
>>>That I am Prospero, and that very Duke
>>>Which was thrust forth of Milan: No more yet of this,
>>>For ’tis a Chronicle of day by day,
>>>Not a relation for a breakfast, nor
>>>Befitting this first meeting: Welcome, Sir;
>>>This Cell’s my Court: here have I few attendants,
>>>And Subjects none abroad: pray you look in:
>>>My Dukedom since you have given me again,
>>>I will requite you with as good a thing,
>>>At least bring forth a wonder, to content ye
>>>As much, as me my Dukedom.
09- Ferdinand (BS) & Miranda (JB) are flown on from either side, DC. BS supports a chessboard; Miranda a piece, about to make a move. Sees the trap:
>>>Miranda: Sweet Lord, you play me false.
>>>Ferdinand: No, my dearest love,
>>>I would not for the world.
>>>Miranda: Yes, for a score of Kingdoms you should wrangle,
>>>And I would call it fair play.
>>>Alonso: If this prove
>>>A vision of the Island, one dear Son
>>>Shall I twice lose.
[Gonzalo operator moves Seb. Head.] Shift. Ferdinand confronts Alonso, DC.
>>>Sebastian: A most high miracle.
>>>Ferdinand: Though the Seas threaten they are merciful,
>>>I have curs’d them without cause.
10- Ferdinand into central area, wondrous. Alonso unable to move. Miranda is transfixed; Prospero comes to her.
>>>Alonso: Now, all the blessings
>>>Of a glad father compass thee about.
>>>Miranda: O, wonder!
>>>How many goodly creatures are there here?
>>>How beauteous mankind is? O brave new world
>>>That has such people in’t
>>>Prospero: ’Tis new to thee.
Ferdinand kneels to Alonso. Alonso raises him; they embrace.
>>>Alonso: What is this Maid, with whom thou wast at play?
>>>Is she the goddess that hath sever’d us,
>>>And brought us thus together?
>>>Ferdinand: Sir, she is mortal;
>>>But by immortal Providence, she’s mine;
>>>She is daughter to this famous Duke of Milan,
>>>Of whom I have receiv’d a second life;
>>>And second Father
>>>This Lady makes him to me.
>>>Alonso: I am hers.
>>>But O, how oddly will it sound, that I
>>>Must ask my child forgiveness?
Alonso kneels to Miranda. Prospero raises him.
>>>Prospero: There Sir stop,
>>>Let us not burden our remembrances,
>>>With a heaviness that’s gone.
Prospero directs Ferdinand & Miranda US. They are placed on stands. Prospero L, Alonso R. Gonzalo comes forward into C.
>>>Gonzalo: I have inly wept,
>>>Or should have spoke ere this: look down you gods
>>>And on this couple drop a blessed crown.
>>>Alonso: I say Amen, Gonzalo.
>>>Gonzalo: Was Milan thrust from Milan, that his Issue
>>>Should become Kings of Naples? O rejoice
>>>Beyond a common joy, and set it down
>>>With gold on lasting Pillars: In one voyage
>>>Did Claribel her husband find at Tunis,
>>>And Ferdinand her brother, found a wife ,
>>>Where he himself was lost: Prospero, his Dukedom
>>>In a poor Isle: and all of us, ourselves,
>>>When no man was his own.
11- Boatswain (BS) and Ship Master (JB) enter into DL side stage.
>>>O look Sir, look Sir, here is more of us:
>>>I prophesied, if a Gallows were on Land
>>>This fellow could not drown. What is the news?
>>>Boatswain: The best news is, that we have safely found
>>>Our King, and company: The next: our Ship,
>>>Which but three glasses since, we gave out split,
>>>Is tight, and yare, and bravely rigg’d, as when
>>>We first put out to Sea.
>>>Alonso: This is as strange a Maze, as e’er men trod.
They are placed on stands Far L. Gonzalo onto stand UR. Alonso & Prospero into C; Alonso distracted with confusion.
>>>Prospero: Sir, my Liege,
>>>Do not infest your mind, with beating on
>>>The strangeness of this business: I’ll resolve you:
>>>Till when, be cheerful: Come hither Spirit,
>>>Set Caliban, and his companions free:
>>>Untie the Spell: How fares my gracious Sir?
>>>There are yet missing of your Company
>>>Some few odd Lads, that you remember not.
12- Prospero to DR, Alonso UC. Caliban (JB), Stephano (BS), and Trinculo (JF) enter from UL to DRC, as if driven in.
>>>Stephano: Every man shift for all the rest, and let no man take care for himself, for all is but fortune.—Coragio bully-monster, Coragio.
>>>Trinculo: If these be true spies which I wear in my head, here’s a goodly sight.
Alonso comes down to C above them. Prospero faced front, never looking at them.
>>>Alonso: Is not this Stephano, my drunken Butler?
>>>And Trinculo is reeling-ripe: where should they
>>>Find this grand Liquor that hath gilded’em?
>>>How cam’st thou in this pickle?
>>>Trinculo: I have been in such a pickle since I saw you last that, I fear me, will never out of my bones: I shall not fear fly-blowing.
>>>Stephano: O touch me not: I am not Stephano, but a Cramp.
>>>Prospero: You’d be King of the Isle, sirrah?
>>>Stephano: I should have been a sore one then.
>>>Prospero: Mark but the badges of these men, my Lords,
>>>Then say, if they be true:
Alonso comes around behind the clowns to behind Caliban, staring at him. Clowns shift, supporting each other.
This mis-shapen knave;
>>>His Mother was a Witch; and one so strong
>>>That could control the Moon, make flows, and ebbs,
>>>And deal in her command, without her power:
>>>These three have robb’d me; two of these Fellows, you
>>>Must know and own, this Thing of darkness, I
Prospero reaches out and touches Caliban: long moment. A strong intimacy between them in the following, both speaking very quietly to one another, as if seeing each other’s reflection. Prospero speaks Caliban’s lines in unison.
>>>Caliban: I shall be pinch’d to death.
>>>Alonso: (voiced by AA) This is a strange thing as e’er I look’d on.
>>>Prospero: He is as disproportion’d in his Manners
>>>As in his shape: Go, Sirrah, to my Cell,
>>>Take with you your Companions: as you look
>>>To have my pardon, trim it handsomely.
Trinculo and Stephano off quickly R, placed on stands far R. Caliban remains. Prospero speaks his lines in unison with AA.
>>>Caliban: Ay that I will; and I’ll be wise hereafter,
>>>And seek for grace: what a thrice-double Ass
>>>Was I to take this drunkard for a god?
>>>And worship this dull fool?
>>>Prospero: Go to, away.
Indicates Spirit (JB) to take Caliban onto stand far R. Watches the placement.
>>>Prospero: Sir, I invite your Highness and your train
>>>To my poor Cell: where you shall take your rest
>>>For this one night: and in the morn
>>>I’ll bring you to your ship, and so to Naples,
>>>Where I have hope to see the nuptial
>>>Of these our dear-beloved, solemniz’d;
>>>And thence retire me to my Milan, where
>>>Every third thought shall be my grave.
>>>Alonso: I long
>>>To hear the story of your life; which must
>>>Take the ear strangely.
>>>Prospero: I’ll deliver all;
>>>And promise you calm Seas, auspicious gales,
>>>And sail so expeditious, that shall catch
>>>Your Royal fleet far off:
Alonso puppet placed on stand. Spirit (BS) rises to Prospero, places Prospero puppet on stand. Ariel (JB) appears above L wing.
>>> My Ariel; chick,
>>>That is thy charge: then to the Elements
>>>Be free, and fare thou well.
Flash, he disappears with a RAPTOR’S CRY. Prospero comes DC as Spirits move all puppets on stands into a final configuration.
13- Directly to audience, as he removes his robe, revealing street clothes:
>>>Prospero: Now my Charms are all o’erthrown,
>>>And what strength I have ’s mine own;
>>>Which is most faint: now, ’tis true
>>>I must be here confin’d by you,
>>>Or sent to Naples. Let me not
>>>Since I have my dukedom got,
>>>And pardon’d the deceiver, dwell
>>>In this bare Island by your Spell,
>>>But release me from my bands
>>>With the help of your good hands:
>>>Gentle breath of yours, my Sails
>>>Must fill, or else my project fails,
>>>Which was to please: Now I want
>>>Spirits to enforce: Art to enchant,
>>>And my ending is despair,
>>>Unless I be reliev’d by prayer
>>>Which pierces so, that it assaults
>>>Mercy itself, and frees all faults.
>>>As you from crimes would pardon’d be,
>>>Let your indulgence set me free.
Lights fading, he makes one indication of applause.
The moment of blackout, strong, pulsing music. Spirits pop up, DC, bow. Then move stands into configurations DL and DR, return to C with Prospero joining C, bow.
They reconfigure puppet stands so puppets are across in front, Spirits behind and above them, hands raised, acknowledging primacy of the puppets. Then Spirits clear stands to side stages, Prospero solo bow, then all together in C. Lights up.
• • • • • • • • •
We’ve now started sporadic scene rehearsals. One of the seven song drafts finished, and music now in gear. Most of the puppets have been painted, but we’re still in the midst of the costume design process—going to look at fabric Monday morning. A rough light plot, and hanging begins next week. Have a rough list of the video cues, but not yet started on execution. Twelve weeks to go.
• An explosive act. Prospero seems at peace in the betrothal, and then instantly flies into outrage at the thought of premarital sex. Then he presents the celebratory masque, only to interrupt it. Then he prepares the Caliban meeting and sets mad dogs upon the clowns. At the end of the act, when he declares that all his enemies are in his power, we should not expect he’s going to exercise any sort of forgiveness
• The dogs attacking the trio: this goes beyond clowning. They’re more violently punisehd than the nobles, and this seems to stem from his special relation to Caliban. Here, they’re subjected to genuine torture, left in a quivering heap: think Guantanamo.
• “Our revels now are ended…” begins as a comforting speech, seeing the couple’s distress. But he seems to talk himself into a dark corner, a vision of emptiness and loss, and comes out of it more unsettled than ever.
• The motive for the scattering of the masque? Somehow connected with his relation to sex, to Miranda, to his dead wife, and to Caliban. Has to be discovered in rehearsal.
4:1—PROSPERO ATTAINS FULL POWER EVEN AS HE VEERS OUT OF CONTROL, AND BETROTHAL SEGUES TO TORTURE.
01- Lights. Center, formal grouping. Ferdinand is still chained. Prospero holds up key, presents it to Miranda, who unchains him. [Spirit (JF) undoes the chain.] She starts to embrace him, Prospero intervenes, moves into formal triangle, Prospero C, Miranda R, Ferdinand L.
>>>Prospero: If I have too austerely punish’d you,
>>>Your compensation makes amends; for I
>>>Have given you here a third of mine own life,
>>>Or that for which I live; all thy vexations
>>>Were but my trials of thy love, and thou
>>>Hast strongly stood the test:
02- here, afore Heaven,
>>>I ratify this my rich gift. O Ferdinand!
>>>Do not smile at me that I boast her of,
>>>For thou shalt find she will outstrip all praise,
>>>And make it halt behind her.
>>>Ferdinand: I do believe it.
>>>Prospero: Then, as my gift and thine own acquisition
>>>Worthily purchas’d, take my daughter:
03- Places their hands together. Then suddenly, he bursts out. Sharp shift from Miranda and Ferdinand, as if they are cast into new tableaux by the surge of his passion.
>>>If thou dost break her Virgin knot before
>>>All sanctimonious ceremonies may
>>>With full and holy rite be minister’d,
>>>No sweet aspersion shall the heavens let fall
>>>To make this contract grow; but barren hate,
>>>Sour-ey’d disdain and discord shall bestrew
>>>The union of your bed with weeds so loathly
>>>That you shall hate it both: therefore take heed,
>>>As Hymen’s Lamp shall light you.
They reach to one another, but afraid to touch, risking another explosion.
>>>Ferdinand: As I hope
>>>For quiet days, fair Issue and long life,
>>>With such love as ’tis now, the murkiest den,
>>>The most opportune place, the strong’st temptation
>>>Our worser Genius can, shall never melt
>>>Mine honour into lust.
Prospero beckons them back C, returning to original positions.
>>>Prospero: Fairly spoke:
>>>Sit then, and talk with her, she is thine own.
04- He passes hand in front of them, they are asleep, cheek to cheek, DC. Prospero to far R area, looks L to Ariel.
Ariel (AA) appears far L, above.
>>>Ariel: What would my potent master? here I am.
>>>Prospero: Thou and thy meaner fellows your last service
>>>Did worthily perform. Go bring the rabble,
>>>O’er whom I give thee power, here to this place:
>>>Incite them to quick motion; for I must
>>>Bestow upon the eyes of this young couple
>>>Some vanity of mine Art.
>>>Prospero: Ay, with a twink.
>>>Ariel: Before you can say, ‘Come,’ and ‘Go,’
>>>And breathe twice; and cry, ‘so, so,’
>>>Each one, tripping on his Toe,
>>>Will be here with mop and mow.
>>>Do you love me, Master? no?
Ariel disappears. Prospero back to C position. They wake instantly back to position, not knowing they were asleep.
>>>Prospero: Look, thou be true; do not give dalliance
>>>Too much the rein: the strongest oaths are straw
>>>To the fire i’ the blood.
>>>Ferdinand: I warrant you, Sir;
>>>The white-cold virgin Snow upon my heart
>>>Abates the ardour of my Liver.
Prospero X R to book. Ferdinand and Miranda focus on one another. Video: foliage appears, composite with moving hands.
>>>Now come, my Ariel: appear, and pertly.
>>>No tongue! all eyes! be silent.
Ferdinand & Miranda turn upstage to face screen, low. Music. Shadow appears on screen, with both frontal and profile silhouettes. Recorded voice, sometimes chorused or with unison voices on some words or phrases.
Far L, Prospero moves his hand as if directing the shadows; a sense that they’re emanating from him. Shadows (JF/AA). Rapid chant, throbbing rhythm, illustrative gesture:
05- >>>Iris: Ceres, most bounteous Lady, thy rich Leas
>>>Of Wheat, Rye, Barley, Vetches, Oats, and Peas;
>>>Thy banks with pioned and twilled brims,
>>>Which spongy April at thy hest betrims,
>>>To make cold Nymphs chaste crowns; and thy broom groves,
>>>Whose shadow the dismissed Bachelor loves,
>>>Being lass-lorn; thy pole-clipt vineyard;
>>>And thy Sea-marge, sterile and rocky-hard,
>>>Where thou thyself dost air: the Queen o’ the Sky,
>>>Whose watery Arch and messenger am I,
>>>Bids thee leave these; and with her sovereign grace,
>>>Here on this grass-plot, in this very place,
>>>To come and sport; her Peacocks fly amain:
>>>Approach, rich Ceres, her to entertain.
Enter Ceres as shadow.
>>>Ceres: Hail, many-colour’d Messenger, that ne’er
>>>Dost disobey the wife of Jupiter;
>>>Who with thy saffron wings upon my flowers
>>>Diffusest honey-drops, refreshing showers:
>>>And with each end of thy blue bow dost crown
>>>My bosky acres, and my unshrubb’d down,
>>>Rich scarf to my proud earth; why hath thy Queen
>>>Summon’d me hither, to this short-grass’d Green?
Prospero touches his portrait locket.
>>>Iris: A contract of true Love to celebrate,
>>>And some donation freely to estate
>>>On the bless’d Lovers.
>>>Ceres: Tell me, heavenly Bow,
>>>If Venus or her Son, as thou dost know,
>>>Do now attend the Queen? since they did plot
>>>The means that dusky Dis my daughter got,
>>>Her and her blind Boy’s scandal’d company
>>>I have forsworn.
>>>Iris: Of her society
>>>Be not afraid; I met her deity
>>>Cutting the clouds towards Paphos and her Son
>>>Dove-drawn with her. Here thought they to have done
>>>Some wanton charm upon this Man and Maid,
>>>Whose vows are, that no bed-rite shall be paid
>>>Till Hymen’s Torch be lighted; but in vain:
>>>Mars’s hot Minion is return’d again;
>>>Her waspish-headed son has broke his arrows,
>>>Swears he will shoot no more, but play with sparrows,
>>>And be a boy right out.
>>>Ceres: Highest Queen of State,
>>>Great Juno comes; I know her by her gait.
Iris disappears. Ferdinand turns front in amazement. Prospero answers from his far R position.
>>>Ferdinand: May I be bold to think these spirits?
>>>Prospero: Spirits, which by mine Art
>>>I have from their confines call’d to enact
>>>My present fancies.
>>>Ferdinand: Let me live here ever.
>>>Miranda: Sweet, now, silence:
>>>There’s something else to do.
>>>Prospero: Hush, and be mute,
>>>Or else our spell is marr’d.
Enter the shadow of Juno, a large figure with a crown of light. Video images flowering.
Video of hands (the Nymphs) caressing, celebrating, gradually becoming more sensual. Ceres moves around Juno.
>>>Juno: Honour, riches, marriage-blessing,
>>>Long continuance, and increasing,
>>>Hourly joys be still upon you!
>>>Juno sings her blessings on you.
>>>Ceres: Vines, with clust’ring bunches growing;
>>>Plants with goodly burden bowing;
>>>Scarcity and want shall shun you;
>>>Ceres’ blessing so is on you.
Ceres disappears. Juno turns about, and in turning is disrobed, a nude statue. She reaches to Prospero, who reaches as if to touch the shadow. She turns again, this time showing the silhouette of late pregnancy. Shadow of Caliban.
06- Prospero cries out. Music change. Prospero X UC, as if erasing the shadows from the screen. Shadows vanish. Ferdinand and Miranda in the confusion separate. He makes confused gestures, as if his mind’s a blank.
Masked Spirit (AA) appears, turns pages of the book, points, as if prompting.
>>>Prospero: I had forgot that foul conspiracy
>>>Of the beast Caliban, and his confederates
>>>Against my life: the minute of their plot
>>>Is almost come: Well done! avoid; no more!
>>>Ferdinand: This is strange: your father’s in some passion
>>>That works him strongly.
>>>Miranda: Never till this day
>>>Saw I him touch’d with anger, so distemper’d.
Still unsettled, indicating them, but self-involved:
07- >>>Prospero: You do look (my son) in a mov’d sort,
>>>As if you were dismay’d: be cheerful, Sir:
>>>Our Revels now are ended. These our actors,
>>>(As I foretold you) were all spirits and
>>>Are melted into Air, into thin Air:
>>>And, like the baseless fabric of this vision,
>>>The Cloud-capp’d Towers, the gorgeous Palaces,
>>>The solemn Temples, the great Globe itself,
>>>Yea, all which it inherit, shall dissolve
>>>And, like this insubstantial Pageant faded,
>>>Leave not a rack behind. We are such stuff
>>>As dreams are made on, and our little life
>>>Is rounded with a sleep. Sir, I am vex’d:
>>>Bear with my weakness; my old brain is troubled.
>>>If you be pleas’d, retire into my Cell
>>>And there repose: a turn or two I’ll walk,
>>>To still my beating mind.
>>>Both: We wish your peace.
They go off UR, eyes fixed on one another. Prospero X DL, calls to Ariel.
>>>Prospero: Come with a thought: Ariel, come!
08- Ariel (AA) pops up behind him, to his R.
>>>Ariel: Thy thoughts I cleave to. What’s thy pleasure?
>>>We must prepare to meet with Caliban.
>>>Ariel: Ay, my Commander.
>>>Prospero: Say again, where didst thou leave these varlets?
>>>Ariel: I told you, Sir, they were red-hot with drinking;
Disappears, pops up DL (JB).
>>>So full of valour that they smote the air
>>>For breathing in their faces; yet always bending
>>>Towards their project.
Disappears, pops up DR (AA).
>>> Then I beat my Tabor;
>>>At which, they prick’d their ears, lifted up their noses
>>>As they smelt music:
Disappears, pops up DL (JB).
>>> so I charm’d their ears
>>>That, Calf-like, they my lowing follow’d through
>>>Tooth’d briers, sharp furzes, pricking gorse and thorns:
Disappears, pops up DR (AA).
>>>At last I left them
>>>I’ the filthy-mantled pool beyond your Cell,
>>>There dancing up to the chins, that the foul Lake
>>>O’erstunk their feet.
Disappears, pops up behind Prospero again (JB).
>>>Prospero: This was well done, my bird.
>>>Thy shape invisible retain thou still:
>>>The trumpery in my house, go bring it hither,
>>>For bait to catch these thieves.
>>>Ariel: I go, I go.
Prospero sees something off L, backs UC. Caliban (AA) in from L to DRC, looking about him. Prospero down behind him, almost as if contemplating his own mortality.
>>>Prospero: A Devil, a born Devil, on whose nature
>>>Nurture can never stick; on whom my pains,
>>>Humanely taken, all, all lost, quite lost;
>>>And as with age his body uglier grows,
>>>So his mind cankers.
With great violence:
>>> I will plague them all,
>>>Even to roaring.
Prospero storms off UR.
09- Trinculo and Stephano on from L (Caliban DRC), carrying improvised weaponry, leaning on one another, barely able to stand.
>>>Caliban: Pray you, tread softly, that the blind Mole may not
>>>Hear a foot fall: we now are near his Cell.
>>>Stephano: Monster, your Fairy, which you say is a harmless Fairy, has done little better than played the Jack with us.
>>>Trinculo: Monster, I do smell all horse-piss; at which my nose is in great indignation.
>>>Stephano: So is mine.—Do you hear, Monster? If I should take a displeasure against you: Look you,—
>>>Trinculo: Thou wert but a lost Monster.
>>>Caliban: Good my Lord, give me thy favour still:
>>>Be patient, for the prize I’ll bring thee to
>>>Shall hoodwink this mischance: therefore speak softly;
>>>All’s hush’d as midnight yet.
>>>Trinculo: Ay, but to lose our bottles in the Pool,—
>>>Stephano: There is not only disgrace and dishonour in that, >>>Monster, but an infinite loss.
>>>Caliban: Prithee (my King) be quiet. Seest thou here,
>>>This is the mouth o’ the Cell: no noise, and enter.
>>>Do that good mischief, which may make this Island
>>>Thine own for ever, and I, thy Caliban,
>>>Stephano: Give me thy hand: I do begin to have bloody thoughts.
10- Stephano grasps Caliban’s hand. Trinculo staggers around to add his own hand to the clump. Then fists in air: moment of wilted heroic tableau.
11- Ariel (JB) raises a line of glitzy garments, attaches it L. Trinculo and Stephano stagger back and forth, grasping at them, putting on several.
>>>Trinculo: O King Stephano! O worthy Stephano! look, what a wardrobe here is for thee!
>>>Caliban: Let it alone, thou fool; it is but trash.
>>>Trinculo: O King Stephano!
>>>Stephano: Put off that gown (Trinculo): by this hand I’ll have that gown.
>>>Trinculo: Thy grace shall have it.
>>>Caliban: The dropsy drown this fool! Let’s along,
>>>And do the murder first: if he awake,
>>>From toe to crown he’ll fill our skins with pinches;
>>>Make us strange stuff.
>>>Stephano: Be you quiet, Monster.
>>>Trinculo: Monster, come, and away with the rest.
>>>Caliban: I will have none of’t: we shall lose our time,
>>>And all be turn’d to Barnacles, or to Apes
>>>With foreheads villainous low.
>>>Stephano: Monster, help to bear this away where my hogshead of wine is, or I’ll turn you out of my kingdom. Carry this.
>>>Trinculo: And this.
>>>Stephano: And this.
As they load him with garments, extending the bit, sounds of animals growling, louder. Belatedly they hear them.
12- Suddenly, clothes line falls, and Prospero and Ariel (JB) appear, monstrous Dog puppets on each hand, surrounding the trio. Trinculo, Stephano and Caliban charge from side to side, running into each other, beating each other, evolving into a three-part self-destruction machine, and gradually sinking into a trembling, spasmodic heap DC.
>>>Prospero: Hey, Mountain, hey!
>>>Ariel: Silver! there it goes, Silver!
>>>Prospero: Fury, Fury! there, Tyrant, there! hark, hark!
>>>Go, charge my Goblins that they grind their joints
>>>With dry Convulsions; shorten up their sinews
>>>With aged Cramps, and more pinch-spotted make them
>>>Than Leopard or Catamount.
>>>Ariel: Hark! they roar.
>>>Prospero: Let them be hunted soundly.
13- Dogs disappear. Prospero stands barefaced behind the trio, Ariel appears beside them, occasionally touches them, eliciting spasms of pain.
>>> At this hour
>>>Lie at my mercy all mine enemies:
>>>Shortly shall all my labours end, and thou
>>>Shalt have the air at freedom.
Prospero backs away, UC. Ariel pokes the heap once more, a spasm of pain. Then disappears. Fade on the trio in a heap, racked with spasms of torture.
Some sessions this week with actors actually exploring scenes. We begin with a lot of mirror work, partly to get accustomed to the puppets’ range movement, the connection between the live hand and the head, the size of gestures … and partly to start getting into the soul of the puppet.
If that sounds like magic thinking, well, it is. The starting point in puppetry, in any style of puppetry, is first of all to bring this dead thing to life. (That’s just the start: then it’s gotta do something interesting.) For us, that means creating the illusion for ourselves. Staring into the mirror, letting the puppet breathe, letting it start to do very small things, watching it as if you were watching a cat, imagining that it’s doing those things, letting it gradually expand its movement, but keeping that sense of its independence. Intimate acquaintance.
With Miranda (Jessica Bauman), I worked on the first Prospero/Miranda scene. Initially just running lines while on the feet, then staging it roughly, more or less following my storyboard, with Elizabeth holding book and noting changes in blocking. In general, it works, but I’m finding that Prospero, during his long narrative, feels a strong need to move, also a strong split between speaking to her directly and falling into the passions of his memory.
The puppets presently have no paint, hair, or costume, but their shoulder structures and the gloves that allow head control are completed. So we just draped shawls around them for makeshift bodies and got a pretty good feel of the real thing.
With Caliban (Anthony Abate), we worked similarly on the Act 1 scene, but spent most of the time with character exploration: what does this creature sound like? how does he move? Some interesting directions—
• Started with a rough, angry voice, but then started working with higher-pitched, more guarded diction, trying—for his own self-preservation—to restrain his anger. The essence of Caliban is his isolation, and somehow this wants to reflect in his voice. Worked with how the cleft lip of the puppet might affect the diction without going too extreme with it, also how his having learned language at a late age affects his using words.
• Possibly some compulsive habits or gestures that rise, as with autism, from some deep need or from the constant abuse. A sense, when Prospero threatens him, that he’s so familiar with these tortures that he can practically feel them as they’re named.
• In many speeches, he goes through radical mood shifts, from very regular iambic pentameter to extremely disjointed rhythm, for one moment lost in the past, then thrust back into cursing the present. This, despite his overall need to protect himself, like the convict who knows the guards will beat him but can’t contain his sudden outbursts of taunting them.
• Language: Its only function is to foster relationship between people; now he’s been given words but is cut off from the people; and so the words become toxic, a stillbirth that hasn’t been expelled. This is why, when he starts to rant in 2:2 about his multiple tortures, it’s a rant, it’s as if he needs to expel these words. The ultimate torture is that which makes the victim torture himself.
Other work in progress.
• We’ve solved some set construction conundrums, and in our studio the set is slowly transmuting from aluminum frame to magical island. (This is noteworthy: over the course of 48 years of working together, Elizabeth & I have had our major quarrels over minute technical issues, the smallness of the issue inversely proportional to the magnitude of the quarrel. Magically, we seem to have entered a new era.)
• Elizabeth is intensely under way on the score. Lotsa technical snarls with equipment, and tonight a recalcitrant midi cable bit the dust, but creation is under way. Last Sunday we went to a concert by Floracanta, a lovely local early-music group, and the harmonies of a 13th Century piece caught our ear and informed last night’s very rough draft of “Full fathom five.”
• I’ve been sewing and gluing the shoulder structures and attached fingerless gloves for all the puppets. Finished’em, all eighteen. No, damn, still have five Ariels to do.
• Nice letter in the mail. We’re invited, after a preliminary proposal, to submit an application to the Henson Foundation for a development grant for our next project, a restaging of our Frankenstein as a puppet piece. Not big bucks, and nothing guaranteed, and a week’s work on sending a bloomin’ proposal, but still, yes, that feels good.
• And with Ariel, he’s my nightmare. How do you design a shapeshifter? The five raw heads I’ve had for some time now, but going past the rough shells—well, I hate, hate, hate the moment when, ok, now I have to be fuckin’ CREATIVE. So today, at last, all right, I started. Next step.
How strange to write this stuff with no notion that anyone reads it. But growing up in Iowa, you kinda have a hankering for strangeness, given that Tuesdays are so familiar.
• Emphasis on the courtiers’ utter exhaustion. Irony of Antonio and Sebastian plotting when they themselves can barely stand.
• Possibly the Spirits’ masks are grotesque variants of Prospero.
• Gonzalo may be played as utterly unaware of the Harpy vision. Perhaps he’s eating of the banquet throughout, and only notices their shock at the end of Ariel’s speech.
• Possibly as Ariel disappears, Antonio and Sebastian manage to draw their swords and swing at empty air.
• We need the sense that Prospero is continually present throughout the play; Ariel is simply the extension of his will.
• How do we make the Harpy appearance truly terrifying? It mostly has to do with the characters’ reactions to it, but there needs to be something about it that’s truly nightmare-inducing.
3:3—THE GUILTY, FEEDING ON THEIR OWN GUILT, GO MAD.
01-Alonso and Gonzalo enter from R together, to L. Antonio & Sebastian (single puppeteer) follow, stay R.
>>>Gonzalo: By’r lakin, I can go no further, Sir,
>>>My old bones aches: here’s a maze trod indeed:
>>>I needs must rest me.
>>>Alonso: Old Lord, I cannot blame thee,
>>>Who am myself attack’d with weariness
>>>To the dulling of my spirits: Sit down, and rest:
>>>Even here I will put off my hope: he is drown’d
>>>Whom thus we stray to find: well, let him go.
Sudden pain. They embrace each other, supporting. Antonio and Sebastian too are exhausted but try to ignore it.
>>>Antonio: I am right glad, that he’s so out of hope:
>>>Do not for one repulse forego the purpose
>>>That you resolv’d t’effect.
>>>Sebastian: The next advantage
>>>Will we take thoroughly.
>>>Antonio: Let it be to-night.
>>>Sebastian: I say to-night: no more.
02-Prospero appears in shadow projection. Two Spirits enter from L & R into Center; the others startle back. They mime setting an elaborate banquet front with grotesque elegance. During this:
>>>Alonso: What harmony is this? my good friends, hark.
>>>Gonzalo: Marvellous sweet Music.
>>>Alonso: Give us kind keepers, heavens: what are these?
>>>Sebastian: A living Drollery: now I will believe
>>>That there are Unicorns.
>>>Antonio: And what does else want credit, come to me
>>>And I’ll be sworn ‘tis true: Travellers ne’er did lie,
>>>Though fools at home condemn’em.
The Spirits vanish. (One takes Antonio puppet.) The nobles approach the table slowly toward C.
>>>Gonzalo: If in Naples
>>>I should report this now, would they believe me?
>>>If I should say I saw such Islanders;
>>>Who, though they are of monstrous shape, yet note
>>>Their manners are more gentle, kind, than of
>>>Our human generation you shall find
>>>Many, nay almost any.
Human Prospero appears C behind them. He gestures periodically as if cuing them, cf. Kantor’s on-stage directing.
>>>Alonso: I cannot too much muse
>>>Such shapes, such gesture, and such sound expressing
>>>(Although they want the use of tongue) a kind
>>>Of excellent dumb discourse.
>>>Gonzalo: They vanish’d strangely.
>>>Sebastian: No matter, since
>>>They have left their Viands behind; for we have stomachs.
>>>Will’t please you to taste of what is here?
>>>Alonso: Not I.
03->>>Gonzalo: Faith Sir, you need not fear: when we were Boys
>>>Who would believe that there were Mountaineers,
>>>Dew-lapp’d, like Bulls, whose throats had hanging at’em
>>>Wattles of flesh? or that there were such men
>>>Whose heads stood in their breasts? which now we find
>>>Each venturer brings us warrant of.
>>>Alonso: I will stand to and feed,
>>>Although my last, no matter, since I feel
>>>The best is past.
04-Prospero brings up Ariel Harpy puppet, manipulates it. Multiple voices & video. The nobles startle back to either side. (Or the three startle back, while Gonzalo, unaware of the Harpy, picks at the imaginary banquet.)
>>>Ariel: You are three men of sin, whom destiny
>>>That hath as instrument this lower world,
>>>And what is in’t: the never-surfeited Sea,
>>>Hath caused to belch up you: and on this Island,
>>>Where man doth not inhabit, you ’mongst men,
>>>Being most unfit to live: I have made you mad;
Sebastian and Antonio draw swords, then recoil as if shocked.
>>>You fools, I and my fellows
>>>Are ministers of Fate, the Elements
>>>Of whom your swords are temper’d, may as well
>>>Wound the loud winds, or with bemock’d-at Stabs
>>>Kill the still-closing waters, as diminish
>>>The down that’s in my plume: But, remember that you three
Antonio, Sebastian and Alonso fall sharply into a group to R, Gonzalo clutches his head, remaining L.
>>>From Milan did supplant good Prospero,
>>>Expos’d unto the Sea
>>>Him and his innocent child: for which foul deed
>>>The Powers have incens’d the Seas and Shores
>>>Against your peace.
Fall into new tableau; Alonso LC, Gonzalo comforting; others reverse postures R. All frozen.
>>>Thee of thy Son, Alonso,
>>>They have bereft; and do pronounce, by me,
>>>Lingering perdition shall step by step attend
>>>You, and your ways, whose wraths to guard you from,
>>>Is nothing but heart-sorrow,
>>>And a clear life ensuing.
05-Ariel puppet vanishes. One actor takes Antonio & Sebastian. Video with light representing Ariel flitting about. Prospero appears, live, UC. (Or in shadow)
>>>Prospero: Bravely the figure of this Harpy, hast thou
>>>Perform’d, my Ariel; a grace it had devouring:
>>>Of my Instruction, hast thou nothing bated
>>>In what thou hadst to say: my high charms work,
>>>And these (mine enemies) are all knit up
>>>In their distractions: they now are in my power;
>>>And in these fits, I leave them, while I visit
>>>Young Ferdinand (whom they suppose is drown’d)
>>>And his, and mine lov’d darling.
>>>Gonzalo: I’ the name of something holy, Sir, why stand you
>>>In this strange stare?
Alonso standing faced US, turns DS suddenly. Other actor enters below to animate Sebastian.
>>>Alonso: O, it is monstrous; monstrous;
>>>Methought the billows spoke, and told me of it;,
>>>The winds did sing it to me: and the Thunder
>>>(That deep and dreadful Organ-Pipe) pronounc’d
>>>The name of Prosper: it did bass my Trespass.
>>>Therefore my Son i’ th’ Ooze is bedded; and
>>>I’ll seek him deeper than e’er plummet sounded,
>>>And with him there lie mudded.
>>>Sebastian: But one fiend at a time,
>>>I’ll fight their Legions o’er.
>>>Antonio: I’ll be thy Second.
Exeunt Sebastian and Antonio L.
>>>Gonzalo: All three of them are desperate; their great guilt
>>>(Like poison given to work a great time after)
>>>Now ‘gins to bite their spirits: I’ll follow them
>>>And hinder them from what this ecstasy
>>>May now provoke them to.
He hobbles off L slowly in haste.
06-Spirits appear, mime striking the banquet dishes. To black. New music. Video bridge & sound collage: Ferdinand & Miranda lines echoed.
All this week building eighteen shoulder structures (14-gauge Romex loops covered by sculpted foam rubber), with fingerless gloves extending up into the heads. Good thing about this kind of assembly-line work is that you find shortcuts and gradually refine the best ways of doing it; downside is that it’s incredibly boring.
And this evening we actually staged the Prospero/Miranda scene. More about that next week. And at last we have a complete rehearsal schedule going into September. And Elizabeth is bouncing from work on the set, working out the attachments for various wings, screens, curtains, etc., and finishing the setup of integrating a new sampler into the synth stacks in her back-room music studio.
Peace & joy—
Meeting this week with our new costumer, David Romesburg. The following are notes I’ve printed out for him. These are just the starting point. I try to get everything in my head down on paper, and then look at everything afresh.
General Thoughts on Costume—
• This puppet style works best with flowing lines & fabrics. Costumes that require clear waistlines, tight sleeves, etc., don’t work well. We can do some padding for shape, but it’s very easy for padding to create a stiff, lifeless body.
• Asymmetry in costume works best for this puppet style. It makes the puppet’s one-handedness less noticeable, and as in the face, gives the body more sense of movement and life.
• Period? It’s a mistake to locate these late “romances” in an identifiable historic period. First, because Shakespeare is rife with intentional anachronism. Second, because distinct period tends to make a very loud one-note statement. Tempest is a fantasy, though set in a very specific period, so I think we need to reference Elizabethan/Jacobean elements—esp. in hats, collars, shoulders and capes—yet be very free with everything. Contemporary elements are fine if they don’t seem too jokey or stick out obtrusively. Finding ways to violate symmetry will tend to lead us into violating period as well.
• Multiple worlds in the play: (a) the world of island survival, (b) the world of political power, and (c) the world of the elves and elementals, including the force of the sea and the tempest. Prospero is the bridge-point between all these: in that sense we can think of the play as being an expression or a “vision” of Prospero. We need to make those “worlds” very distinct in the color, texture & line of costume.
The father & daughter have been marooned on the island for 12 years, with a store of rich garments but living in this primitive state. On the literal level, Prospero’s magic powers should be able to conjure sumptuous wardrobes and housing, but they don’t: he’s more adept at enforcing sudden bursts of action from spirits or creating illusions. They shouldn’t be in rags, but perhaps garments have been put together incongruously—a sleeve from one garment replacing another, etc.
Sense of displacement: in one sense, they try to maintain a European cleanliness and order, not “of the earth,” and yet thee may be a kind of “sea change” that the island gradually has brought upon them. Maybe grays and earth tones predominate.
Miranda & Ferdinand are from very different backgrounds, but they need some element that connects them, probably some color element that harmonizes immediately.
Should be said, since directors seem to have a contrary impulse: there’s nothing silly or immature about their attraction: its intensity must be deep, true and stunning, strong enough to shake them to the roots.
A human actor, costumed, who also operates a puppet Prospero. The puppet relates to the other puppet characters; the bare-faced human relates to the spirits and to the audience. Both are beardless, with long white hair.
A man of hard-won wisdom, but the wounds haven’t healed. He’s achieved great power but has serious fault-lines within, subject to sudden rage. The play ’s basic action is his own healing, his choice of redemption over revenge. His extreme, continued violence toward Caliban suggests a personal identification with “this thing of darkness.” Miranda knows of his magic but has never seen him directly in ritual practice: he puts her to sleep before calling Ariel. His magic has extended even to calling forth the dead.
So there’s an extreme darkness in contrast to his own desire to see himself as a practitioner of “white” magic. It’s “rough”: harsh, dangerous, rage-fueled, and its power is extraordinarily seductive.
Problem of the magical robe: The puppet Prospero asks that Miranda help remove his robe, so there must be a removable garment for the puppet. But the human continues to wear his robe: in fact the magical ceremony isn’t finished until the play is done.
For the puppet: Magical garment must be easily removable. Possibly a hood with two flat front pieces (there’s a similar kind of ecclesiastical garment) with magical signs, etc. Under this is a more flowing robe for daily wear.
For the human: Magical garment must have some affinity with the puppet’s, so that we’re clear on the identity. But may be much richer or textured with various substances, places of transparency. Possibly the puppet costume is light-colored, the human’s is very dark, befitting the depths of his magical life.
At the end, the puppet Prospero appears in court dress. This would be in the vein of what the Courtiers are wearing, similar in cut and color scheme. At the end, too, the human Prospero takes off his robe: I would see him, in the Epilogue, simply removing it to reveal the actor’s present-day clothes beneath, probably blacks, as he comes back into this world.
So we need: 1. Basic robe for the puppet; 2. magical garment for the puppet; 3. magical robe for the human; 4. court dress for the puppet.
She’s 15 years old, has been raised entirely by her father, with no other human companions except Caliban.
There would be great modesty in her dress, enforced by Prospero’s reaction to the reported sexual attempt by Caliban and the father’s own self-discipline in relation to his adolescent daughter. Possibly the hair is covered. She is well-tutored, intelligent, well-disciplined, with no model for how a woman should act, only the model of her father.
At the same time, from the very first scene, the play shows her revolt, her finding an independent will. She’s compliant but not soft, deeply moved but not weepy, and when she stands up to her father it’s with the same focused power of will as he. The play is also a series of life-shaking revelations and discoveries for her, and she needs the scope of character to absorb them and show us their power.
Costume: something light-colored, flowing, attractive, but not sumptuous, not delicate.
He’s within the same orbit as the Courtiers (see below), but with some element that connects him with Miranda. His eyes are large-irised and very centered, full of wonder like Miranda’s. He’s likely in his 20’s, but as a prince this would be much more “mature” than a contemporary American 20-yr-old. But he’s also been deeply shaken by near-death, the loss of his father, the unearthly music, and the astonishing vision of Miranda.
In 1:2 he draws a sword; we need to solve this issue for him and for the others. In 3:1 he’s been manacled; in 4:1 this chain is unlocked and removed.
• The Courtiers (Alonso/Sebastian/Antonio/Gonzalo):
A sense of their being extreme aliens in this place. Alonso is clearly the highest ranking of the four, but Sebastian is of the royal family. Antonio isn’t from Naples, but he fits into this unit. Gonzalo is somewhat distinct in being a functionary, though high-ranking; he’s in effect a “chief of staff.”
Possibly all are predominantly in black. A degree of elegance in the fit and drapery, but they’re in travel garments, not formal court dress.
Ferdinand, as Alonso’s son, would also fit into this group, but perhaps a color element (shared with Miranda) sets him somewhat apart. We only see him with them in the final scene.
Alonso is King of Naples, which comprises the whole southern half of Italy; the city was in Shakespeare’s time the second largest city in Europe. His action in supporting the overthrow of Prospero would simply have been a political decision to replace a troublesome lesser power with a firm ally.
His eyes I’ve given a more distant (or inward) focus that suggests grief. He’s an extremely powerful man suddenly reduced to distraction.
He should have some kind of signet that marks him as king: a medallion on his hat or chest? Maybe a heavier cloak than the others, somewhat more width of frame.
He bears some resemblance to his brother Alonso, but a rattier version. Looser flesh on the face, ambitious but weak-willed, easily manipulated by Antonio. He enjoys the luxuries and privileges of his rank, would be quite incompetent as a king.
Maybe a wider brim to his hat, a more decorative collar?
Antonio shares a sardonic humor with Sebastian, but there’s more of a coldness, a hardness to him. His irises are small and slightly out of focus to the distance: you can never quite tell what he’s thinking, what he intends. Perhaps more plainness to his dress, or other means of suggesting he’s not possessor of quite the same power as the Neapolitans. Still, he’s of their party and aspires to more.
He’s a counselor and a nobleman, but Alonso’s distraction allows the other courtiers more leeway in mocking him than they might otherwise have. He’s elderly, garrulous, and seems a bit obtuse; but in fact he’s very smart—enough to survive many years in this court. I also see him as quite capable physically, though he lacks stamina: when he comes suddenly awake, Antonio and Sebastian are as startled as if they’d suddenly roused a bull.
So his face is rotund and wrinkly, but one that’s decayed from a face of strength. I tend to picture him in a tight cowl and rather plain gown. Like the lower servants, he should wear some kind of signet that marks him as part of the King’s retinue.
Trinculo and Stephano are servants at the Court of Naples: Trinculo the court fool, Stephano the butler (wine steward). They need to have some common element of “livery” that would mark them as Alonso’s servants. They need to be very contrastive, yet clearly part of the same comedy team. Caliban is outside this dyad, yet he needs to blend somehow s part of the “team.” While the courtiers’ clothes haven’t been affected by the Tempest, it’s likely that the servants, like Caliban, show a lot more wear.
I’m seeing him as a short hunchback. While he has some basic skills as an entertainer, he’s mainly the kind of court fool who served more as a pet, receiving affection or abuse, depending on the owner’s mood. To his superiors he’s an object of sport as an ill-tempered freak. His eyes have a focus somewhere between terror and despair.
Some sort of fool’s motley, probably with cap and bells. Probably ill-fitting and distressed.
The King’s butler, the servant in charge of the wine cellar. (He would rank benearth the steward, who had the broader responsibilities of what we think of as a butler.) He seems to have scant respect: Alonso refers to him as “my drunken butler.” He’s probably the only member of the household who befriends Trinculo, who in turn looks up to him.
I’ve given him wide, vacuous eyes. He’ll have a mustache, tiny beard, and hair sticking out under his hat. I see him trying to add to his dignity by the line of his hat and shoulders, but nothing quite fits together.
He’s conceived as a realistically deformed man with a cleft lip and heavily-lidded wall-eye, about 27 years old. Very asymmetrical. He’s intensely lonely, carries great rage. There’s a kind of baby-faced quality about him, and he’s not very strong.
Probably dressed in cast-away clothing, the appearance of a refugee, maybe stuff that’s washed ashore from a shipwreck. Could be contemporary elements—I’ve even pictured him in a baseball cap—image of a somewhat retarded homeless man.
He needs some kind of cloak to hide under when Trinculo appears. Might be something like a plastic tarp he’s rigged for wearing in a storm.
• Ship Master/Boatswain:
Both of the ship, Ship Master of higher rank. Both dressed for the storm.
• The Ariels and the Spirits:
The multiple shape-shiftings of Ariel and the five puppeteers masked as Earth Spirits (Elves) can go the furthest into fantasy. They’re all “elementals”—manifestations of primal earth forces. So “fantasy” doesn’t mean fairy-tale sprites or playful Puck-like critters but something much more powerful.
Ariel is a shape-shifter: we see him first in his most “natural” form, whatever that is. Then as a sea-nymph. Then as a harpy. The first form will have three heads and bodies, all similar but not necessarily identical, so that he can appear and disappear suddenly from different areas of the stage. Likewise, he’ll be voiced by three different actors, sometimes singly, sometimes in unison. He’s like the many moods of the wind: he can be soft and sweet but can also blow up instantly into a lethal force. Prospero has great difficulty holding him in check and could easily be torn to pieces by him. He loves action, can be playful, but with no sense of consequence.
Might look at the art of William Blake as a reference, at least for color. Also the human/animal combinations of Susan Seddon Boulet. There can be a variety of textures, but need to be sparing with anything gauzy or “fairy-like”—there needs to be great underlying power.
Headdressing is part of the head design, but we need to collaborate on this in tandem with the costuming, so that the whole creature is very organic. He’s not a naked human who’s chosen to put on some clothes; the costume is organic to him.
Five actors (including Prospero, who sometimes must operate other puppets) in half-masks, costumed as Earth Spirits of the island, subject to Prospero’s command. They animate and voice the puppets. Most of the time, they’re behind the puppets, semi-visible but neutral in expression. Once in a while they’re more visible, as when they’re making a sudden group movement, e.g. whipping the characters around in the storm.
And a few times, they’re stand-alone figures, as when two Spirits appear to mime the elaborate banquet. These two might want some additional costume piece just for this scene.
They should be in black base costumes (we can ask the actors if they can supply these) with some kind of simple over-garment that provides texture.
The over-garment too needs to be dark, but doesn’t have to be absolute black. Except for Prospero’s it can remain on during the whole show. The puppeteers’ arms need to be free to fit into the puppets without obstruction, and the garment needs to be safe in terms of catching on things.
June 8: Shoulder structures finished (CB).
June 16: First thumbnails (DR)
Faces painted (CB)
June 26: Final renderings (DR)
Spirit mask bases (CB)
July 3; Puppet hair (CB)
July 10: Basic garments (DR) or rehearsal do-fers (CB)
July 31: All basic garments and hats (DR)
Spirit garments (DR)
Spirit masks finished (CB)
Aug. 21: All trim finished (DR)
Sept. 18: Adjustments & repairs as needed (DR & CB)