An updated 'The Tempest' to be performed at CSB

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November 8, 2018

William Shakespeare wrote “The Tempest” in 1610-11. It is believed to be the final play he ever wrote by himself.

Now, over 400 years later, Kaarin Johnston, professor of theater at the College of Saint Benedict and Saint John’s University, has moved the production from its 17th century story while still retaining almost all of the original storylines using a “differently gendered” approach.

“The Tempest” will be performed at 7:30 p.m. Nov. 8-10, 2 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 11, and 7:30 p.m. Nov. 15-17, all at the Gorecki Family Theater at the Benedicta Arts Center, CSB. The cast includes 16 students, and is directed by Johnston.

So, what is a differently gendered approach?

In all, four male characters made a switch to female actors.

In this production, Prospero becomes the female Prospera (played by CSB student Danica Simonet). Caliban now becomes Gaiban (Marisela Weber), the spirit of Earth and Water; Antonio is now Antonia (Elena Vrba), the Duchess of Milan and Prospera’s sister; and Ariel (Sheng Thao) is a female spirit creature who belongs in the air, not locked in a tree.

The storyline presents the tale of a shipwrecked Prospera and daughter Miranda (Lizbet Martinez-Port). Prospera has been nursing a 12-year desire for revenge, while young Miranda has grown into a maiden ready to discover love.

The magic begins when Prospera’s long-time enemies arrive on the island with a young prince in tow.

Johnston believes the visual aspects of the production will be stunning.

Senior theater major Isabel Huot-Link created the sound design, complete with thunder, lightning, howling beasts, rain, crashing waves, a screaming monster and charming birds. 

The set design, by associate professor of theater Mark Hennigs, is the first in the last 35 years to flow from one side of the Gorecki Family Theater across the entire width of the audience space. The set suggests the rocky shore of an uninhabited island, somewhere in the Mediterranean Sea, and was built by student workers and students in theater classes.

The costume design is by assistant professor of theater Amelia Cheever, and is based on contemporary Italian high fashion with a blend of modern style and Renaissance shapes.

Ticket prices are $10 for adults; $5 for CSB/SJU students; and $7 faculty and staff, seniors and other students.  For tickets, call the Benedicta Arts Center Box Office at 320-363-5777 or order online.

The Nov. 15 performance will be free. However, you must reserve your free ticket.