Direction: Sean Holmes
Designer: Paul Wills
Dramaturgy: Zoë Svendsen
Composer: Cassie Kinoshi
Musical Director: Rio Kai
Double Bass/percussion/Guitar/Recorder/Cello: Rio Kai, Magnus Mehta, Shirley Tetteh, Olivia Petryszak, Midori Jaeger.
Co-Direction: Diane Page
Assistant Direction: Naeem Hayat
Design Associate: Sandra Falase
Movement: Rachael Nanyonjo
Fights: Maisie Carter
Cast: Peter Bourke, Rachel Hannah Clarke, Ralph Davis, George Fouracres, Joanne Howarth, Olivier Huband, Nadi Kemp-Sayfi, Ciarán O’Brien, Patrick Osborne, Lucy Phelps, Ferdy Roberts, Katy Stephens.
Production photographs: Marc Brenner
The Tempest (1610/11) is testimony to the forces of racialisation, enslavement and colonial power, and how these shaped our world from the time of Shakespeare onward. Today it is the proliferation of waste – including plastics, chemicals, e-waste – across the globe, as well as modern financial colonisation, that entails that no comer of the earth is free from the carelessness and disregard for people and environment manifested by those early colonisers.
Washed up on the Globe stage with a load of plastic in container crates, in this production, the lords thus embody the colonial drive that reaches into, and trashes, every corner of the earth. This time, washed up by a fake storm and subjected to a series of tricks, these lords might learn a little humility. Meanwhile, Prospero, the accidental colonist, is less in control than he would like to think. Ariel only obeys him because she must: when she asks for what she is promised – her freedom – we suddenly see a flash of cruelty in Prospero and recognise his power for what it is – white magic in a colonial sense.
Rather than imply Prospero to be in touch with the supernatural, in this production it is Ariel’s connection to and care for the ecosystem that brings the music of the isle to spirited life – Prospero commands, but only she can stir the natural world to response. Menwhile Propero is ever less in control, as the Lords’ servants – led by the enslaved Caliban – turn against him, and the sexual intensity of Miranda and Ferdinand’s desire for one another shocks Prospero, despite his plan to make a tidy match for his daughter. Prospero must accept that to let her love, is also to lose her.
In this anti-colonial version of the play, it ends ambivalently: the joy of reunion is tempered by the acknowledgement of the damage that has gone before – Prospero ends the show (we used his speech ‘these are such things as dreams are made of’ as the epilogue) but then rather than receiving applause, slips off the stage, and disappears in amongst the groundlings. His colonial reign is over.