Sunday, April 19, 2015

Shakespeare in Cleveland: English and History/Political Science Departments Team Up for Field Trip

By Sarah Ludwig, English major

A portion of the group after dinner at Cowell & Hubbard
This past Sunday, I traveled to Cleveland with other students and professors in the English and History departments to see the Hanna Theatre’s adaption of Shakespeare’s The Tempest. Going into it, I had hoped that the performance would bring something unique to this timeless comedy. I had wished that the performance would divert from a typical interpretation that one would expect and offer something unanticipated. I was extremely happy when the play did just this.

There are many aspects of the play that I found memorable. Right from the start, the set caught my attention. In the middle of the stage sat a large glass paneled box that could open and close. Throughout the entire play, it was never removed. However, its purpose constantly changed. It was inventive to see how the simple glass box resembled the ship powering through the tempest in the opening scene and then changed in the next to indicate a space on the island. Even more spectacular was the effect the box had on the lighting. The reflected colors created an almost ethereal atmosphere that added to the supernatural elements of the play.

Along with the set design, I was pleasantly surprised at the artistic interpretations of the characters and of Shakespeare’s text. One character that stuck out in particular was the island’s native, Caliban. He was depicted as a Marilyn Manson-like character. It gave him a very edgy, rock star quality. I thought this unexpected interpretation worked well with Caliban’s character and emphasized his outcast status. Normally, I would dislike a character like Caliban, but the play’s interpretation gave Caliban a certain appeal that was so uncalled for that I couldn’t help but appreciate him.

Many new ideas and materials were used that I found unexpected yet significant. While some of the choices were questionable, I liked how it made me look at the old Shakespearean play in a new light. It was refreshing to see The Tempest performed in a way that I would never have considered. I am extremely happy that I took the time to see this play with some of my classmates and professors. It provided me with a great opportunity to take a break from classwork and to enjoy the performance of one of the texts I am studying. I recommend The Tempest to anyone who wishes to see a different take on a classic Shakespeare play. I look forward to other opportunities like this in the future!