Shakespeare’s last play The Tempest has long dazzled readers and audiences alike with its intricate blend of magic, music, humour, intrigue and tenderness.
Dan Dryer gets the chance to direct it for the Wick Theatre Company 25 years after playing the wronged Duke of Milan, Prospero as a student. Dan’s production runs from June 27-30 at the Barn Theatre, Southwick Street, Southwick.
“I am on the play selection committee, and I just felt that in the Wick we had not done a Shakespeare for a couple of years.
“I wanted to do The Tempest and I wanted to direct it. It is an unusual play, a strange play which is difficult to classify. In some ways it is a comedy, but it is also a romance and it is also a tale about revenge and it is also a play about magic. It is a play about a man who is contemplating his revenge, but who is also contemplating the end of his life. But then there is all the comedy in it as well. There are so many different layers to it.”
And that is a big part of both the fun and the challenge of directing it.
“There are so many choices that you have to make and that is what means that every production is different.
“At the start when Prospero is recounting his story, in one sense it is a huge exposition. You are introducing everything that is going to happen in the play. But there are so many different ways of playing it. When Prospero is telling his story, you have to think whether it is revenge or anger or resentment. You have got to come to decisions about how you are going to play it, and for me the interesting thing is that the decisions I am making now as a director are different to the decisions I came to 25 years ago as an actor.
“This very ambiguity is what attracts me to the play and of course this means that there is something for everyone when watching. At that time Miranda’s greeting of ‘Oh brave new world’ seemed perhaps less ironic than it does to me today – but the themes of hope and forgiveness are just as powerful.
“As Shakespeare’s farewell to the stage it is also very moving in showing a man ready to put down his pen after a life of creating magic. The Wick’s workshop team have created an amazing Prospero’s island. Atmospheric use of lighting and sound, along with some of Wick’s most talented actors will conjure up a tempestuous evening of sorcery, revenge and romance.”
There are other challenges too. At one point Shakespeare specifies that a banquet disappears “by a quaint device.”
“I asked my workshop whether they had a quaint device, and they said that they hadn’t! But the challenge is that we need to create an atmosphere of magic, a real sense of atmosphere. I am using modern music because the music would have been modern when the play was first performed.
“In the beginning, whenever you do Shakespeare, you have got a barrier that you have got to overcome because Shakespeare is not natural speech for us today. But I think directors can worry too much about the words we are saying. I keep saying that we have got to be thinking about the meaning, about what is actually in the minds of the people saying them. You have to say them as if you know what you are thinking and then not worry if some of the references are a bit obscure.”
The curtain up is at 7.45pm. Tickets cost £11 from the Box Office on 01273 597094 or through our website: www.wicktheatre.co.uk.