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Story of the Play: The Tempest

 


Before the Play Begins:
The year is 1901. Prospero, the Duke of Milan and a brilliant scientist, abandons his stately duties and immerses himself in his studies. Prospero’s younger brother, Antonio, joins forces with Alonso, the king of Naples, to usurp Prospero’s position. Prospero and his young daughter Miranda are pushed out to sea on a raft and left to die.
They land on an undiscovered island, their only possessions some trunks of scientific equipment and books saved for them by Gonzalo, their friend. Immediately upon arriving, Prospero begins planning his revenge. They meet Caliban, an indigenous scientist, who immediately bonds with Prospero. Until now, Caliban had lived on the island with no one but his mother, Sycorax, who is now dead. Together, Prospero and Caliban create a makeshift laboratory and produce The Ariel Coil, which generates, stores and controls electricity. The Ariel Coil becomes the power source for Prospero’s developing inventions. Caliban sees this tool as the next step in the island’s evolution, while Prospero is only interested in exacting vengeance on his traitorous brother. Tension between the scientists builds.
As Miranda grows up, Caliban sees her as part of the coming future; together, they can create the island’s next generation. However, Prospero thwarts Caliban’s advances toward his daughter, and the alliance between the two men is broken. Caliban is relegated to slavery and kept in chains.
As the years pass, the laboratory dominates the island, tended by beings Prospero has created called The Qualities, pow-ered by the Ariel Coil. Prospero has become the island’s dictator, and Miranda is a teenager. Finally, Prospero’s enemies are within reach. He uses his device to destroy their ship, and bring them to his shores. Now, he will have his revenge.

The Play
After the shipwreck, the Ariel electricity seeks its freedom. Angered by the Coil’s rebellion, Prospero tinkers with it to make it more subservient. Miranda, having seen the shipwreck, demands to know if anyone was harmed. Prospero calms her, and tells her how they were banished to the island years ago. With the help of a reluctant Caliban, Prospero sets The Ariel Coil to be an invisible observer as his enemies explore their mysterious new surroundings. Alone, Caliban lashes out at Prospero for stealing his island.

In another part of the island, The Qualities find King Alonso frantically searching for Ferdinand, his son and the Prince of Naples, who he fears has drowned in the shipwreck. Alonso sings a song to himself, which The Qualities record. On yet another part of the island, The Qualities use the recording of Alonso to lead Ferdinand (who believes his father has drowned) to Miranda. The two are immediately drawn to one another. Prospero coyly questions the Prince about his ori-gins. Ferdinand, has fallen in love-at-first-sight with Miranda, and says he will make her Queen of Naples. Prospero accuses Ferdinand of trying to usurp his power on the island, and imprisons him.
The Qualities descend undetected upon Alonso, Gonzalo, Antonio and Sebastian and make Gonzalo and Alonso fall asleep. They hear Antonio and Sebastian cook up a plot to kill the sleeping King and Gonzalo, so Sebastian may assume the throne. However, before they are able to act, Gonzalo and Alonso awake.

Elsewhere, Trincula, a simple-minded servant from Alonso’s court, is looking for a place to wait out the coming storm. When she hears someone coming, she hides under Caliban’s cloth. That someone else is Stephano, a drunken butler, who stumbles upon the cloth with four legs sticking out of it. Eventually, the two friends are overjoyed to have found each other. Caliban, seeing an opportunity, suggests he can serve them and they help him break his chain.
Having been that Caliban has escaped, Prospero leaves Miranda and Ferdinand alone for the first time. The youth profess their love and vow to marry. The Qualities find Caliban, Trincula and Stephano, and trick them into fighting one another. Caliban realizes what is happening, and convinces the others they must kill Prospero. As Alonso and his men continue to search for Ferdinand, The Qualities condemn them for usurping Prospero’s dukedom, and tell Alonso that his son is dead. The four men vanish!

Meanwhile, Prospero blesses the marriage of the two lovers. Caliban, Trincula and Stephano enter, and Prospero battles Caliban. However, after Caliban sees Miranda and Ferdinand in love, he cannot kill Prospero. With Alonso and his men confined, Ariel urges Prospero to take pity on them. Prospero must choose between revenge and forgiveness.


Marin Shakespeare Company

Marin Shakespeare Company
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