About This Clip
A Tempestade (The Tempest)
A performance by Teatro Praga. Based on William Shakespeare’s The Tempest and Henry Purcell’s The Enchanted Island.
Critics have observed how, in The Tempest, Shakespeare presents an island in which the virtues and flaws of characters are highlighted. This is the reason the island differs from character to character, depending on their past, personality, and intentions. The island depends on the personality of each person, which is why some have bad dreams and others good ones, some see images of usurpation and others a paradise island. As Harold Goddard puts it, “To innocent senses the isle itself is pure loveliness; to corrupted ones it is no better than a swamp”. Or, as Northrop Frye argues, “In this island the quality of one’s dreaming is an index of character”. Likewise, in Teatro Praga’s adaptation of The Tempest we see ourselves. The show opens with the audience’s entrance in the auditorium, the lights are on, the actors are there and the spectators see themselves reflected on a big screen on stage. These mechanisms call our attention to the audience’s role in the play and to the nature of the act of watching. As is said at the beginning of the show, “we are all in the same boat”. The tone is not, however, serious. After all, this is a musical comedy.
If the island doubles our image, it is only natural that a discussion about the nature of theater itself is to be found in Teatro Praga’s The Tempest, a company well-known for debating the topic in their staging of plays. In Shakespeare’s text, one finds multiple references to the art of theater and to the way Prospero associates magic to “mine art” (1.2.291). In Teatro Praga’s play, Prospero controls the narrative of his characters, their past and present, and we rely on his descriptions to better understand the stories that take place offstage, as if Teatro Praga were claiming that, in Shakespeare’s text, this is a figure who finds himself surrounded by underdeveloped characters such as Ferdinand or Antonio. Miranda is perceived as a teenager in love with the idea of romance (and of being in love), which explains her fascination for Ferdinand, the first man she sees. Sycorax is brought back from the dead, and in her Teatro Praga gives Prospero a worthy rival, played by the actress Cláudia Jardim. As dictatorial as Prospero, Sycorax attempts to steal his role and to stage manage the re-entry of her son, Caliban, “This island should be yours, are you listening to me?” This omnipotent figure is the only character who comes across in all spaces of the stage: appearing in the video projection and backstage, crossing the space whenever she pleases, and being a central figure of the masques.
The line “I must be here confined by you” (5.epil.4) finds its illustration in Praga’s The Tempest in an image that the company posted on Facebook a few weeks before the show. In it, one sees a group of tourists inside a cage in the middle of the savannah, being observed by a group of lions (a case in which prey and predator seem to have exchanged roles). As mentioned, Shakespeare’s notion of confinement on the island is illustrated in Bárbara Falcão Fernandes’ set design, in which we find a giant cage in the middle of the stage, where Prospero’s storm-makers accompany him. Notice how, in this idea of a cage which the viewers observe, we also perceive a commentary on the nature of theater itself – that space where others are given an opportunity to be voyeuristic. Prospero, standing above the cage, begins to speak and describes the show which has just ended. In the repetition of tempests, in the idea that we are observing what remains after a play has ended, this Tempest exceeds itself.
Script in Portuguese adapted by Pedro Penim, André E. Teodósio, and J.M.Vieira Mendes.
The company website has additional information about this production.
Cast and Crew
Text and Creation: Pedro Penim, André E. Teodósio, J.M.Vieira Mendes.
Music: Xinobi & Moullinex.
Musical Arrangements: Carlos Clara Gomes.
Cast: Joana Barrios, Diogo Bento, André Godinho, Cláudia Jardim, Diogo Lopes, Patrícia da Silva, André E. Teodósio, Vicente Trindade, Daniel Worm d’Assumpção.
Vocal Director: Rui Baeta.
Soloists: Rui Baeta (Baritone) and Sandra Medeiros (I Soprano).
Choir: Ana Margarida Encarnação (II Soprano), Cristina Repas (Mezzo-soprano), João Francisco (Tenor).
Video: André Godinho.
Set Design: Bárbara Falcão Fernandes.
Light Design: Daniel Worm d’Assumpção.
Choreography: Vicente Trindade.
Historic Costumes: António de Oliveira Pinto.
Costume Design: Joana Barrios.
Guest Artists: Vasco Araújo, Catarina Campino, Javier Nuñez Gasco, João Pedro Vale.
Video Team: Joana Frazão, Salomé Lamas.
Boom Operator: Nuno Morão.
Sound Design: Jorge Imperial.
Light Assistant: Marta Fonseca.
Production: Elisabete Fragoso, Filipa Rolaça.
Production notes provided by Maria Sequeira Mendes, Assistant Professor, School of Arts and Humanities – University of Lisbon.