Director’s Notes, June 9

Rehearsals and preparations for The Tempest are reaching their high point now, and it looks like it’s going to be another fantastic Bard in the Barracks production! It’s been great to take rehearsals to the park over the last while, shaping the scenes to the particular terrain of the very rugged and scenic locales where we’ll be performing. It’s a process unlike anything we normally do for conventional theatre productions, and it never fails to leave us all feeling some of the giddiness of kids running around playing make-believe in the woods… because that’s exactly what we’re doing!

Our cast for the show is once again rock-solid, led by Bard veteran Elizabeth Goodyear as Prospero, following in the footsteps of several great female actors (including Vanessa Redgrave and Helen Mirren) who have played the play’s male protagonist. Changing Prospero to a woman means changing a few words here and there in the script, but it’s surprising how well the change works, and the new dimensions it brings to the play, especially with some of the other unique touches we’re adding to the production as well.

It’s been a pleasure working with Liz on shaping our portrayal of Prospero, who is surely one of Shakespeare’s most complex and fascinating characters. Other Bard vets in the show include Rebekah Chassé’s athletic and puckish Ariel, Michael Holmes-Lauder as a wonderfully snarling Caliban, Sam Kamras as the naïve but feisty Miranda, John Ball as the lovably daft Gonzalo, and Matthew Spinney as the treacherous Antonio.

We’re also welcoming a number of new faces to the cast for the first time this year, including Kelly Lamrock in the role of Alonso, Jesse LaPointe, who is sure to melt some hearts as Ferdinand, and five very talented young actors as a chorus of Spirits who might well steal the show. Combining the role of singers, musicians, magic and mischief-makers, and representations of the human, animal, and inanimate spirits of Prospero’s island itself, the spirits will be multi-faceted and omnipresent. If you liked the witches in Macbeth and the fairies in A Midsummer Night’s Dream, you’re in for another treat!

The original music composed by John Ball in collaboration with the actors is utterly spellbinding, I can report from early rehearsals, and is sure to be a highlight of the show. Meanwhile, Lynn Addleman’s seventeenth-century costumes are taking shape and looking equally stunning (and also hilarious and fearsome, in just the right doses). And in a show full of magic, we’re looking forward to what our resident technical wizard, Mike Johnston, might have up his sleeve in terms of effects special to our park setting…

All in all, we’re having a blast and all’s going swimmingly… Mark your calendars for our run of June 26 through July 7, and help spread the word!

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