Tempest applies modern interpretation

7 years ago Triangle 0

By Bria McKamey

First the improvisational exercises—twirling and leaping through the air; then add the purple body paint.

For theater major Grace Loe, it is just another day in the life.

Well, except for the purple body paint maybe.

In Bryan’s spring production of Shakespeare’s “The Tempest,” Loe plays Sprite, a purple-skinned nymph.

It takes a long time to apply the paint, and while she is looking forward to the production, Loe said she is not excited to be purple for two weeks.

“The paint is expensive and it’s alcohol-based—it doesn’t come off with water,” she said. “So I can’t wash it off every time.”

Loe is not the only one who will be wandering around Bryan campus a different color. Jessica Baskin and Justin Jones will be doused in body paint for their roles as well. Not to be outdone, each character in the play has a color theme that represents them.

Justin Jones’ character, magician Prospero, will be shrouded in a long, purple cloak.

Erica Wade prepares costumes / Photo by Jessalyn Pierce
Erica Wade prepares costumes / Photo by Jessalyn Pierce

Each costume that the actors wear has special significance for Erica Wade, who designed the costumes herself. She hopes to have a career in costume design.

Wade has had a great start in her desired career at Bryan. The theater closet, which holds all of the costumes for Bryan’s plays, is organized to perfection. Each article of clothing is placed in its exact decade and era. Jackets and dresses are designated to one side of the room. Shoes go in bins on the floor. Petticoats line the wall. And a torso-less dummy hangs, suspended, from the ceiling.

“Oh, that’s from one of our plays called ‘Curtains’,” Wade said. “He used to be standing up, and it would scare us every time we came in here.”

The third floor of Rudd Auditorium is a child’s (or bored college student’s) dress-up dream come to life.

And do any of the actors ever “borrow” any of the costumes to supplement their own wardrobes?

“We wish,” Wade said.

Matthew Wade, Erica’s husband, is directing the show. For recent graduates, the Wades, and seniors Baskin, Jones and Crystal LaPlue, “The Tempest” is the grand finale of their personal performances at Bryan. The dessert theater production is their thesis.

Matt Wade reinterpreted Shakespeare’s work, clarifying the lofty language, reordering sentences and making it more understandable for the audience. He also swapped genders for a few of the characters, including Queen Alonsa played by his wife.

“The Tempest”  opens with Prospero, rightful Duke of Milan, stranded on an island with his daughter, Miranda (Rachel Liebert), after his evil brother, Antonio (Nicholas Wilbanks), overthrew him. After Antonio passes by the island, Prospero summons up a tempest that pushes the ship directly toward the island. Once on the island, Prospero uses his magical powers to control the ship’s occupants—Queen Alonsa of Naples (Erica Wade), her daughter Sebastica (Katelin Lowe) and son Ferdinand (Elijah Gray), and Alonsa’s advisor, Gonzala (Deanna Kobet).

“‘The Tempest’ is generally considered to be the peak of Shakespeare’s work. It expresses a great amount of wit, comedy and emotion,” Matt Wade said.

He is most looking forward to the interaction with the audience.

“Part of our stage is in the audience—the audience is going to be close to the action,” Wade said.

“Matt is doing a very fine job,” said Bernie Belisle, assistant professor of Communication Studies. “It was a lot to tackle doing Shakespeare as a first directing project, but he has worked hard. I believe he will continue to grow as he pursues his dream of graduate school in directing.”

Erica Wade said that seeing all of the hard work finished will be a good feeling.

“There is a great freedom in finding yourself in a character. Erica might be nervous, but Alonsa certainly isn’t,” she said.

The cast is finishing up the last week of dress rehearsals. Tickets are on sale from the ticket office in Rudd, the campus bookstore, and online.

The play will be performed in Brock Hall. Audience members will be able to see the play unfold while enjoying some of Donna Belisle’s brownies à la mode. “The Tempest” performance dates are Feb. 13-14,  Feb. 18 and Feb. 21, from 7 to 10 p.m.