Shakespeare is reimagined in role-revering adaptation of “The Tempest”

By Bethany-May Howard

Rider University’s theater ensemble anticipates that its adaptation of the classic Shakespearean play “The Tempest” will take its audiences by storm in the Yvonne Theater from April 27 to 30.

The play, directed by Christopher Parks, contains many twists compared to the original. This will help to make Shakespeare “very accessible” for newcomers, yet still “tasteful” for fans of the original work, said sophomore musical theater major QuentinAraujo, who plays Boatswain and a magical spirit.

One of the aspects that makes this version unique is that many of the characters’ sexes have been reversed.

“The powerful characters, such as those that were or are in political power, are all played by women,” said junior musical theater major Shelly Walsh, who plays Antonia, or Antonio in the original.

The weaker characters who either serve or are used as tools by these powerful women are played by men.

“I feel this aspect of our production changes the entire message of the show,” said Walsh. “It allows for the undertone of feminism in an anti-misogynistic universe that people may have never experienced before, especially in ‘The Tempest.’”

The theater ensemble’s adaptation of Shakespeare’s classic tragicomedy and romance will also incorporate dance and movement.

“The cast all has had a heavy creative hand in building the show,” said Araujo. “Our director has been working with the cast to produce and refine ideas, actions and movement.”

The Rider University theater ensemble puts on three plays, three musicals and two cabaret performances a year.

“The artistic nature of this show and the idea that everyone in the cast and crew will have their own stamp on it makes it extremely special,” said Walsh.

The group only gets four weeks to rehearse each show, which means they have to practice every weeknight for three and a half hours.

The ensemble has continued to rework its scenes right up to tech week, Araujo said.

The cast is in the final stages of adding music, lighting and sound to the performance.

“It always gets stressful toward opening night, but that’s just in the nature of live theater,” said Walsh. “We are all super excited.”

The group is hoping that its performances will directly affect the audience who, according to Rider’s website, will “sit amidst the action.”

“As an actor, you always hope the audience leaves your production thinking about something different than what they were thinking about when they walked in,” said Walsh. “It’s all about serving a message and changing an evening. So I think we all hope, as an ensemble, that we help people feel something.”

    “The Tempest” will be held on April 27 and April 28 at 7:30 p.m., April 29 at 2 p.m. and 7.30 p.m and April 30 at 2 p.m. Admission is free to Rider students, $20 for adults and $15 for seniors/non-Rider students. Tickets can be purchased by calling the box office at 609-896-7775 or through the online box office: http://bit.ly/1VB96Sf

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