Otterbein Theatre & Dance presents Shakespeare’s “The Tempest” April 22-25
Posted Apr 19, 2021
The Otterbein University Department of Theatre & Dance presents a new look at Shakespeare’s “The Tempest” April 22-25 via scheduled virtual performances.
Mark Mineart, Associate Professor of Theatre at Otterbein, curated the script by studying and combining various versions of the text from the Shakespeare First Folio and those from previous professional productions. He then edited the script further for length and context specific to the needs of this production.
“One of the things that has always deeply interested me about Shakespeare was how well he wrote women, particularly in a theatre tradition when all roles were played by men,” Mineart said. He took a broad view of the characters’ genders when curating the script.
The most notable changes in the script are in the genders assigned to the characters. Instead of a male Prospero, Mineart has made the character female, giving her the name Prospera. Likewise, the traditionally male character Antonio, Prospero’s brother, has been changed to Antonia, Prospera’s sister.
In the Otterbein production, Shakespeare’s last play, “The Tempest,” is the story of Prospera who, along with her daughter, Miranda, was abducted and set adrift to die by her power-hungry sister and a jealous king. They have survived 12 long years shipwrecked on a lonely island.
When Prospera learns through magical arts that those who sought her child’s death are within her reach, she is consumed by rage. Conjuring the greatest of storms to break their ship upon her shores, Prospera brings her enemies to her feet. But when the opportunity to wreak her final vengeance is upon her, Prospera can no longer recognize the thing she has become, and she is forced to choose between her vengeance and her daughter’s love.
“It makes more sense to me that Prospero would be female,” Mineart explained. “As a parent, I know the deep bond between parent and child, but the bond between a mother and her child is of an order of magnitude different. Women, in my observance, possess a strength more like a glacier or the plates of the earth: slow, quiet, deep, inexorable and unyielding, a strength that cannot be shaken.”
The role of Prospera is performed by Ava Arkin, a junior musical theatre major from New York. After rehearsing the role, she found that, “Casting a woman to play Prospera most greatly affects the relationships in the show. One of the most significant relationship shifts is between Prospera and Miranda because it becomes maternal, which I think improves their relationship and the relationship Prospera has with the audience.”
Arkin also found that the emotional arch of the story has been altered due to the change of gender. “In my opinion, the female version of Prospera doesn’t have as much of a domineering or patriarchal kind of feeling that Prospero has when played by a man. Instead, it invites the audience in to see Prospera’s more protective and loving side before she exhibits her need for revenge.”
In accordance with safety measures to protect the production team and audience from the spread of COVID-19, the performance was filmed in advance and will be streamed via the website showtix4u.com. An Internet connection is required to access the stream.
The Otterbein University Theatre production of “The Tempest” will stream virtual performances at 7:30 p.m. on Thursday, April 22; at 8 p.m. on Friday, April 23, and Saturday, April 24; and at 2 p.m. on Sunday, April 25. Tickets cost $15 per device. Call 614-823-1109 or visit www.otterbein.edu/drama.
The box office is open for in person and phone sales from 12-4 p.m. Monday through Friday, and is located in Cowan Hall, 30 S. Grove St., Westerville.