University of Maryland - 2017
Written by: William Shakespeare
Unrealized Scene Design
Scene Designer: Katherine Stepanek
This version of The Tempest turns a bit of a corner from the traditional version of the play. Instead of an island, this world resides within a psych ward in Victorian England. The only characters in the real world are Prospero and Caliban. Every other character is either a figment of Prospero's imagination or an alternate personality of Caliban. As the play goes on, Prospero writes everything on the wall, never leaving the stage, but watching the action of the other characters.
For instance, Miranda is a doll on Prospero's cot, and he picks it up to talk to it. Miranda (the actress) appears on stage, talking back to Prospero, however, he only interacts with the doll. The human Miranda wanders around stage, vocally interacting, but otherwise lives in her own world, messing with the chess board, or reading the books.
Ariel and the spirits are voodoo characters, coming out of Prospero's books and sketches on the wall. All the books are old references of voodoo and island magic, from a former, pre-ward life.
Caliban himself is actually three characters, with the primary personality being Caliban. He is also Trinculo and Stephano. Caliban believes that puppets or objects in either hand are these characters, but he says the lines and adapts traits of all three.
The grand ending of the play, with the drowning of his books of wizardry, is played out with Prospero taking his 'staff' and breaking the skylight window. The rain that has been pouring down covers the walls, washing the words that Prospero has been writing down the whole show. This cleans the slate, letting him start all over again.