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The Tempest

Prospero,  Miranda and Caliban from Shakespeare's The Tempest



Jim McKie once again designed a spectacular set. A tall mast was rigged to plunge to the stage during the opening shipwreck scene. It only failed once during a performance (when the actors – who must have been horrified to have a huge beam of wood fall in the wrong direction – coped beautifully.) The set itself was a jagged coastline with a tall mountain stage right, which held Prospero’s cave. Ariel made her first appearance onto the stage flying on a wire rigged from a huge Eucalyptus tree behind the tech booth onto the mountaintop. Caliban’s first entrance was equally spectacular, as he emerged from under the lip of the stage, splashing through the moat, and occasionally wetting audience members sitting in the front-row. 

Ariel from the Tempest


Kim Curtis’ beautifully textured costumes included raffia and feathers as she created elemental island spirits representing earth, air, fire and water. 

We were thrilled to engage one of our favorite Bay Area actors, the intriguingly quirky and physically gifted Howard Swain, as Prospero. Howard, whose wife Nancy Carlin had played Rosalind for us in our first season, became a father shortly after the production closed and the second Carlin-Swain daughter was named Miranda. Cynthia Ruffin was an African goddess of an Ariel. Len Pettigrew, a former professional football player with the Philadelphia Eagles, took on his first theatrical acting job playing Caliban. His natural combination of sheer power with an underlying sweetness combined with a certain naiveté about Shakespeare and theatre worked perfectly, and he was directed less as a monster than as a potentially noble savage.

From the Playbill – Director’s Notes:

Island spirits from the Tempest“Each summer as we reinhabit Forest Meadows our elder son Jackson takes to the woods like a savage young Caliban. He knows ‘all the qualities o’ th’ isle’ and can ‘pluck thee berries, show thee a jay’s nest and get thee wood enough.’ This year he decided to dig for treasure on a ridge just off upstage left. The ground is hard and he had just scratched the surface when he uncovered an almost perfect obsidian arrowhead, the first we’ve discovered in four seasons of rooting around building sets and creating magic effects. An omen? Certainly a vivid reminder that Columbus didn’t discover this continent 500 years ago, but merely introduced it to Europeans. Shakespeare was a cultural descendent of those early explorers and a contemporary of Sir Francis Drake himself. He certainly had the Jamestown expedition – which ran aground in the ‘still vexed Burmudas’ in 1609 – on his mind when he set down this tale. And we are the heirs of that same colonial legacy which has molded America from the Revolutionary War through the Civil War until today.

So we can look at The Tempest as a reassessment of the European impact on the indigenous peoples of the new world. We can see Prospero as a conquistador / colonialist and Ariel and Caliban as enslaved nations whose autonomy has been overwhelmed by European technology (i.e. magic.) And we have set the mythical isle somewhere between West African and the West Indies, peopled with native spirits who create their magic through dance and song and ‘noises, sounds, and sweet airs that give delight.’”




Marin Shakespeare Company

Marin Shakespeare
Box Office Telephone: 415/499-4488
890 Belle Ave. San Rafael, CA, 94901
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Summer Season 2015 - - Starting: June 26 2015
Performances Weekends July through September:  Friday, Saturday and Sundays at 8 pm and Sundays at 4 pm,
and Thursdays 8PM in September.
Classes - All Year - Education Telephone 415/499-4487

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