Earlier today I went to see New Paltz’s production of The Tempest. It’s definitely a different experience seeing it as opposed to reading it.
When seeing the play performed, I got a whole different feeling from Prospera as I did from Prospero. Two things stood out to me specifically: firstly, I felt like Prospera’s emotions were elevated because we could see what she was doing on stage, rather than just reading it. I especially liked at the end when Prospera gives up her magic, which we can tell is hard for her to do, and she lets Ariel go and gives Caliban a small nod. The last scene struck me as Prospera does accept giving up full reign of her island. I felt when it was performed she had a sort of ambivalent feeling about going back to Milan because she was able to manipulate, rule, and build herself a life with her and Miranda on the island. Of course, she wants to go back, but in Milan is where her troubles began and her power was stripped. In contrast, she was able to gain power and build herself up on the island. Through her body language only is where I saw this depicted.
Secondly, seeing the play performed was a much different experience because of Prospera, Alfonsa, and a female Ariel. I like the dynamic of changing those characters to women because it gives a more empowering feeling into who’s in charge. I can imagine watching the play with all men and feeling like there’s just too much testosterone. By taking away three masculine figures, new bonds are formed between all of the characters. Like we were talking about in class when they came in, the relationship between Miranda and Prospera changes, as well as Prospera and her brother (and all others who betrayed her), Prospera and Gonzolo, Prospera and Ariel, etc. I find that by changing these dynamics the play does something different for the audience. Instead of the play being about a bunch of jealous men who want the power over others (which is so typical), the play more closely examines relationships between people. If Prospero was male, then the story would just be the typical story of a male protecting his daughter.
I appreciate the way New Paltz went about putting on The Tempest. The show was excellent—especially Trinculo, though! Honestly, you stole the show, Anika! 🙂