Marooned and left to die on a remote island, Prospero can command spirits, create apparitions and manipulate the elements. By using his magic, he assembles his enemies to take revenge on them, and in the process awakens in Miranda, his teenage daughter, her first experience of love. Conceived and directed by Public Works Director, Lear deBessonet, the premiere production of The Tempest showcased 200 New Yorkers from all five boroughs, who shared the stage with professional actors and community partners.
Twelve years ago, Prospero, the rightful Duke of Milan, was overthrown by his treacherous brother Antonio and Alonsa, the Queen of Naples. Prospero and his daughter, Miranda, were driven out, exiled in a barely sea-worthy little boat, which miraculously brought the pair to this enchanted island. Now a powerful magician, Prospero rules a kingdom-in-exile: the monster Caliban, sweet-voiced spirit Ariel, and the island’s many supernatural inhabitants. When at last, a dozen years into Prospero’s banishment, Antonio and Alonsa’s ship sails temptingly close, Prospero conjures up a storm—a tempest—to wash its company ashore.
The newly marooned Italians bring surprises, like drunken clowns Trinculo and Stephano, who conspire with Caliban, and Alonsa’s sister Sebastia, who nurses murderous intentions. Most astonishing of all, the now-grown Miranda “changes eyes” with Alonsa’s son Ferdinand—an innocent love that shakes Prospero’s certainty. Will ‘justice’ cost the next generation its happiness? Can Prospero interrupt the cycle of betrayal, or will he stay— alone and proud—on this island forever?
by WILLIAM SHAKESPEARE
adaptation/music/new lyrics by TODD ALMOND
conceived by and directed by LEAR DEBESSONET
Originally commissioned and produced by The Public Theatre
Oskar Eustis, Artistic Director
Patrick Willingham, Executive Director
Prospero, the rightful duke of Milan. After his brother, Antonio, seized his title and property, Prospero was exiled with his daughter and eventually found refuge on an island.
Miranda, Prospero’s daughter. She has been on the island with her father for 12 years ó since she was 3 years old.
Antonio, Prospero’s younger brother, who is now the duke of Milan. He had plotted against Prospero years earlier and now convinces Sebastian to murder his brother, the king of Naples.
Ariel, a spirit of the air. He assists Prospero in seeking retribution over his enemies.
Caliban, the offspring of the witch Sycorax and the devil. Prospero has made Caliban his servant or slave, and in response, Caliban plots to murder Prospero.
Ferdinand, the son of the king of Naples. During the storm, he was separated from the rest of the king’s party, met Miranda, and fell in love with her.
Alonsa: The Queen of Naples. She believes her son has died and is overjoyed later to find him. Alonsa is repentant for the pain she caused Prospero in the past. Sebastia: Alonsa’s sister. She is easily led into planning her own sister’s (the queen’s) murder.
Gonzalo, an elderly counselor who saves Prospero’s and Miranda’s lives when they are exiled. He provides a sense of hope and optimism when Ferdinand is lost.
Stefano, the king’s butler. He arrives on the island drunk and quickly becomes involved in a plot to murder Prospero.
Trinculo, the king’s jester. When Stefano arrives with wine, Trinculo joins him in drinking and then agrees to a plot to murder Prospero.
Boatswain, the ship’s petty officer. He is in charge of the deck crew, the rigging, and the anchor. He must try to keep the boat afloat during the storm, even when the king’s party makes demands upon his time.
Ensemble/Chorus: Mariners, Nymphs, Other Spirits attending on Prospero
Keyboard 1/Guitar 1 (Conductor)
Guitar 2 (Electric, Acoustic)
Percussion (Drum Set, tambourine, cymbal, Crash Cymbal, snare, toms, shaker, hi-hat, mark tree, maraca)