Posts Tagged ‘The Tempest’

Join us this Wednesday, March 11th at 7:30pm in Tuscaloosa’s Bama Theatre for Forbidden Planet!

Forbidden Planet copy

If you consider yourself a film or science fiction geek and haven’t seen Forbidden Planet before, consider this Wednesday your chance to get right with the world before your geek license is revoked. This movie sets up so many tropes that will come to be hated and adored in later films. For more, see Dr. Russ McConnell’s program notes below:

*****

The Tempest

The Tempest, one of Shakespeare’s final plays, is about Prospero, powerful magician and rightful Duke of Milan, and his teenage daughter Miranda, who have spent twelve years on an island after Prospero’s villainous brother Antonio (aided by Alonso, King of Naples) usurped his position and set him and Miranda adrift at sea. They are not the only inhabitants of the island: Prospero is served by the supernatural spirit Ariel and the monstrous, animalistic creature Caliban. When Prospero learns that his brother Antonio is passing close by the island on a ship, he conjures up a tempest to wreck the ship to bring Antonio and his retinue to the island. This retinue includes Prospero’s old and faithful servant Gonzalo, Antonio’s co-conspirator Alonso, and Alonso’s son Ferdinand. The shipwrecked characters explore the island, having various adventures and plotting intrigues, secretly observed by Prospero. Ferdinand meets and falls in love with Miranda, and her father (although secretly approving of the union) forces Ferdinand to become his servant to prove his worth and sincerity. In the end, Prospero brings all the main characters together in a scene of forgiveness and reconciliation, which culminates in Ferdinand and Miranda becoming engaged, Ariel being freed, and plans being made to return to Italy. Prospero resolves to bring an end to his magic: “I’ll break my staff…I’ll drown my book.” In this moment, Prospero is often read as representing Shakespeare himself, the playwright finally declaring an end to his glorious career as a master creator of theatrical magic.

In recent decades, The Tempest has often been read as a play about European colonialism, with Ariel and Caliban as colonized natives. Alternatively, Caliban’s physical appetites (both sexual and bibulous) have caused some readers to identify him less with the oppressed colonial subject than with the repressed Freudian id, opening up the possibility of psychoanalytic interpretations.

There have been many adaptations of The Tempest over the centuries, including The Tempest or, The Enchanted Island produced by John Dryden and William Davenant in 1670 and an operatic version by Thomas Shadwell in 1764. Shakespeare’s original text did not make a reappearance until William Charles Macready’s version of 1838. Adaptations continued in the 20th century, eventually making the move from stage to film.

Forbidden Planet

Fred M. Wilcox’s 1956 film adaptation Forbidden Planet is set on the extraterrestrial world of Altair IV, now colonized by humans, but formerly the home of the Krell, a now-extinct alien species. The film is the first to depict human beings travelling through interstellar space on a craft of their own making, and the first set entirely on another planet, in a remote solar system. The film’s equivalent of Shakespeare’s Ariel is Robby the Robot, and as a piece of technology rather than an enslaved spirit, he seems calculated to avoid inspiring any sense of guilt or distress in a 20th-century audience. He is a creation of the scientist Dr. Morbius (Walter Pidgeon), who rules Altair IV, whose intelligence has been enhanced to a superhuman level by an encounter with ancient Krell technology, and whose knowledge is beyond the comprehension of the other characters, who consist of the crew of starship C-57D, led by Commander John Adams (Leslie Nielsen). Ultimately, however, their suspicion that no individual human being, however intelligent, can be trusted with such power proves to be vindicated.

Perhaps Forbidden Planet’s greatest innovation is its version of Caliban: a terrifying invisible beast that stalks the planet at night, hunting the crew of C-57D. The true origin of this monster is one of the film’s best surprises. Even though this origin depends upon a theory that Morbius describes as “obsolete,” it nevertheless neatly explains both the monster itself and the extinction of the ancient Krell, as well as evoking a major strand of critical interpretation of The Tempest.

The conclusion of the film departs somewhat from that of its source-text, having some elements of tragedy, and being less about forgiveness and reconciliation than about the essential fallibility of human nature (and, as it turns out, alien nature as well). While in The Tempest, Sycorax’s magic is characterized as full of “earthy and abhorred commands” in contrast to the good magic of Prospero, in Forbidden Planet, the super-science of Morbius turns out to encompass both halves of this dichotomy.

~ Dr. Russ McConnell

Shakespeare on Film, 2014-15

September 15_________Ten Things I Hate About You

November 4_________________The Bad Sleep Well

November 23___________Shakespeare Behind Bars

December 16_________________To Be Or Not to Be

January 19______________________West Side Story

February 16________________Deliver Us From Eva

March 11_____________________Forbidden Planet

April 27___________________Love’s Labour’s Lost

Sponsored by:

The Hudson Strode Program in Renaissance Studies, the University of Alabama, Tuscaloosa

All films are free and open to the public.

10922026_10203346628838690_1152133061_n

Jan 15th, 2015, 7:30pm at the Dinah Washington Cultural Arts Center in downtown Tuscaloosa. Starring Michael Witherell as Prospero. Our script can be downloaded here: The Tempest, adapted by Steve Burch and Emily Pitts Donahoe

RSVP to the Facebook event!

The staged reading of Richard III was a great success, and I’ll have some audio posted from it later this week. First I have an announcement about two Shakepseare events happening next week.

Shakespeare Behind Bars

Shakespeare Film Posters, Shakespeare Behind Bars copy

Hudson Strode’s next Shakespeare On Film offering will be Shakespeare Behind Bars, next Monday, October 13th, at 7:30pm at the Bama Theatre. Here’s what Ben Moran has to say about the film:

Shakespeare Behind Bars, directed by Hank Rogerson and Jilann Spitzmiller (2005)

The Luther Luckett Correctional Complex might be the last place one would expect to find Shakespeare. A medium-security Kentucky prison surrounded by guard towers and razor-wire, it houses 1100 convicts, including murderers, rapists, and child molesters. Yet once a week, Curt Tofteland, program director of Shakespeare Behind Bars, visits this island of concrete and steel to help a group of inmates prepare a Shakespearean play. As part of their rehabilitative efforts, the members of this troupe spend a year with one text, rehearsing for a springtime production to be staged before their families and fellow inmates. For the year depicted in Shakespeare Behind Bars, the cast selects The Tempest as its play. Almost instantly, the prisoners begin unwittingly merging with the characters they perform. Between rehearsals, they play out their own anger and guilt, relaying, as Prospero does, their histories and the causes of their present conditions. Hal (Prospero) grapples with his troubled family history, sexuality, and role as a father, all while playing a different father on stage. Red (Miranda) initially rebels against his role; he bickers with his stage father during practice before recounting his own difficult upbringing. A beast of a man, Big G (Caliban) also must come to terms with his crime and the fact that he, like Caliban, has grown up in bondage. Each man has reason enough to remain angry at the world around him. Yet each holds onto the hope that somehow he can atone for his sins. Realizing they too are “such stuff / As dreams are made on,” bound to fade “like this insubstantial pageant,” the cast members desire the smallest of salvations. As Leonard (Antonio) articulates, they can only aspire to be remembered for something other than the worst things they have done. Staging Shakespeare does not resolve their problems, but by the time of their spring performance, the prison troupe gives us reason to believe that doing so has set their sole aspiration within reach.

~Ben Moran

Shakespeare and the First Folio

First_Folio_VA

On Thursday, October 16th at 7:30pm at the Paul R. Jones art gallery, IF will hold its third Shakespeare in Performance workshop, Shakespeare’s First Folio: An Actor’s Tool, led by Nic Barilar. This hour-long workshop explores the creative and interpretative hints “hidden” in Shakespeare’s First Folio and how actors use these cues in performance. The workshop will include an introductory history of the Folio (the first collection of Shakespeare’s plays, published in 1623), a demonstration of some of the major differences between the Folio and modern editions of the plays, and, of course, explanations regarding how to use the text in performance. The evening will conclude with a brief exercise practicing the technique.

YouTube Shax

Posted: March 30, 2012 by nrhelms in Announcements
Tags: ,

Just in case you’re looking for an Interim class to take at UA, check this out:

Interim 2012. MTWT noon to 3:15 pm.  Professor Sharon O’Dair

“YouTube Shakespeare” (EN 408) is a study of adaptation and appropriation of Shakespeare, in which you will address a play text, The Tempest, three film versions—*Forbidden Planet*, *Prospero’s Books*, and *The Tempest* (Taymor 2010)—and multiple You Tube versions of the play. In support of the text, the films, and the videos, we will read theory and criticism on adaptation and appropriation, beginning with a consideration of Susan Orlean’s *The Orchid Thief* (1998) and the film into which it was made, Spike Jonze’s *Adaptation* (2002), which was based on Charlie Kaufman’s screenplay. Your work for the interim term will be to create a video adaptation of *The Tempest* of at least five minutes’ length.  You will work in teams, and be responsible, if necessary, for appearing in your classmates’ videos.  You will spend a good deal of time in the Gorgas multi-media center.

Texts:  William Shakespeare, *The Tempest*; Fred Wilcox, *Forbidden Planet*; Peter Greenaway, *The Tempest*; Julie Taymor, *The Tempest*. Susan Orlean, *The Orchid Thief*; Spike Jonze, *Adaptation*; Charlie Kaufman, *Adaptation*.  Selected articles about adaptation and appropriation, available in Gorgas reserves.

EN 408 has prerequisites.  If you wish to take this course and have not fulfilled the prerequisites, please contact either Professor O’Dair (sodair@bama.ua.edu) or the Director of Undergraduate Studies, Professor John Burke (jburke@english.as.ua.edu).  We may be able to help you enroll!