The selected performance
The performance chosen for the investigation is The Tempest, which is running in the Savage Rose Theater. I was interested in this version since the theatre is now rather popular in spite of being relatively young (10 years in operation). Although Savage Rose is a modern theatre company, it adheres to classical drama and does not experiment with any provoking or shocking interpretations, which also attracted my attention.
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The staging, lighting, costumes, and characters of the performance
Watching the performance, I realized that the staging is indeed classical. The director does not attempt to change Shakespeare’s text to the point of making it unrecognizable. On the contrary, the message of the author and the character’s speeches are made central. The director managed to prove that even leaving the set and the scenery unchanged, one can do miracles with words only. The only conceptual element of staging that goes beyond traditional settings is a pile of books in the background (that are supposed to stand for wisdom) (Savage Rose Theater, 2014).
There are no experiments with the lighting either as it remains ambient throughout the play. Since none of the characters are in the spotlight, the viewer shifts the focus of attention to the text. However, he/she cannot help noticing the costumes either. It is not by chance that the characters’ clothes stand in sharp contrast (Arial’s ethereal dress and Caliban’s rags, Prospero and Miranda’s plain apparel, etc.). Besides creating the effect of a tale, it also reveals much about their personalities.
It can be stated that the actors perfectly match their roles as they manage to interpret the characters without extravagancies. To my mind, Prospero deserves a separate mention since he manages to demonstrate a highly complex personality (a wizard, a sailor, and a professor in one), showing that he can be eccentric and mild, sad and angry at different times. This matches the author’s vision of this character.
Type of mood and tone created by the performance
The mood of the play is rather sad and gloomy. In some parts of it, the tension becomes overwhelming, which makes it difficult to concentrate on the characters’ speeches. This atmosphere is created with the help of music and sea decorations. Despite the fact that the play is a comedy (and it is actually funny in some acts), it still has a melancholic touch as each of the characters has his/her hidden grief.
The parts of the play that are easier to understand through performance
It was easier for me to comprehend the content of the play starting approximately from the middle of it. Although I have once read The Tempest, it was still challenging for me to identify which character corresponded to which actor at the very beginning of the performance. There are plenty of remarkable features, but I liked the characters’ interpretation of the text the most. Due to this, the play appears to be a tragedy, a tale, a comedy, and a horror story in its different parts.
The role of theater in contemporary culture
Unfortunately, according to different surveys, the theater is gradually losing its important role in the contemporary culture. The viewer is more attracted to movies with their 3D technology, special effects, and recognizable actors’ faces. That makes classical theaters look for ways out and introduce modern cinema features into their performances (Rosen, 2017). However, this play proves that the significance of the theater is still high even without modern tricks. Regardless of the fact that we are now very far from Shakespeare, people can still share the same joys and sorrows.
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Rosen, C. (2017). Plays of impasse: Contemporary drama set in confining institutions. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.
Savage Rose Theater (2014). The Tempest–full play [Video file]. Web.