Miguel Romero
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THE TEMPEST

BY WILLIAM SHAKESPEARE

This design emerged after discussions about the circular movement that Richard Trousdell, the director, envisioned in a strongly choreographed production. We felt it was important that the characters be confronted by physical obstacles that prevent them from arriving anywhere by means of a straight line. The gesture of drawing Prospero's magic circle organically led to the spiral concept.

The ground plan utilized both the "3/4 round" arrangement of the "black box" theatre, with the galleries above and behind the audience for the many scenes in which characters observe one another and for appearances of the supernatural characters. The central performance structure was literally an island—a spiral ramp arrangement rising from the stage floor. It was reminiscent of a chambered nautilus shell, an image that reflected the nautical allusions in the text and the continuous growth and movement of the principal characters in the course of the play. The entire form was textured and finished in silvery black adding to the sense of mystery of the work. Caliban was imprisoned below the shell structure, allowing him to make entrances quickly and with startling effect.

As they entered the theatre, the audience first saw a "watery" shiny black satin fabric draped over the spiraling floor. For the opening scene, it became the sail of the ship in the storm and reappeared later as the body of the sea monster. Prospero's trunk, which appeared as if it had been washed ashore from the shipwreck, stored magical effects as well as his books and garments.

Thanks to evocative, atmospheric lighting by Penny Remsen, the environment effectively set off the colorful costumes designed by Andrew Wittkamper and the puppets and masks (a, b) that I designed for this rewarding production.

 
Copyright © 2002 Miguel Romero. All rights reserved.