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Shakespeare rocks: All-School Play updates a classic

Students rehearse with props for their upcoming performance.
Students rehearse with props for their upcoming performance.

This year’s all-school fall production of The Tempest, directed by performing arts instructors Lizi Watt and Gleason Bauer, will be an indie-rock musical, a recreation of a play Watt directed before. The play will be performed in Caswell Hall for three nights from Nov. 3-5, starting at 7 p.m.

Since the play is an indie rock musical, the songs were specifically picked to fit in with the plot. Along with the music of the play, the dialogue will slightly diverge from the typical iambic pentameter speech style of Shakespeare’s plays, and will include some modern words and phrases. Watt had the idea to transform The Tempest into an indie-rock musical after directing the play with a mentor eight years ago. Watt said she  wanted to direct the play again to highlight some of the topics that she had not highlighted in her first production.

“[I wanted to show] the question of power and control, forgiveness and redemption, and the power of control versus the power of love,” Watt said.

Watt enlisted the help of sound designer Jeff Mclaughlin who worked on the original indie-rock version of the play with her years ago, and has picked a variety of songs by Arcade Fire, Magnetic Fields, John Lennon, Bright Eyes and Flaming Lips.  A professional live band will be playing music for the show, along with one student musician, Olivia ’20. The featured songs are upbeat and  are used to enhance the feelings of the scene they are in, as well as tie in with the dialogue. Watt said she believes the musical aspect of the production is meant to put a spin on the Shakespeare plays by making the show more captivating and adding music that will elevate the scenes and exploring deeper themes.

The expansiveness of nature is a main theme throughout the play, because the show centers around humans in nature and showing what happens when humans try controlling it for their own needs. Nature will be incorporated into the play through the costumes, which include items found in the forest, and by a set featuring pieces of trees. Watt and Bauer present the theme of diverse and untamable nature by casting up to four people for some roles.

The actors follow a daily routine to keep their body and mind in shape for the difficult stunts they will perform in the production. Assistant student choreographer Hannah ’18, leads a stretching warm up, followed by pushups, handstands, cartwheels and strengthening drills led by Watt. Actors are also mindful of their their role when they complete their training exercises and perform the workouts in the way their character would to create a greater connection between themselves and the role they are playing.

“You have to do a lot of work focusing on really getting in touch with your physical self to fully explore your character,” James Elliot ’19 said, who plays the role of Ferdinand.

Many of the actors have worked very hard on practicing the music and their movements, and are excited for the audience to see everything come together.

“I am looking forward to people seeing all of the cool group movement we do, like what we look like as sailors being hit by waves on the boat,” Katherine ’22 said, who plays the role of Stephano.