Power, love and greed each have the ability to steer one’s moral compass and the ability to dictate one’s life.
When combined, these ideals wield the power to shape perspectives and allow the characters of “The Tempest” to make the right decision without breaking moral codes.
From Feb. 27 to March 2, “The Tempest” was performed at Keene State College’s Redfern Arts Center. The play, directed by Peggy Rae Johnson, professor of theatre and dance, tells the story of a deposed nobleman and powerful sorcerer named Prospero, played by Dan Patterson, professor of theatre and dance, living alone on an island with only his young daughter Miranda, played by Ryan Connell, his monstrous servant Caliban, played by Will Adams, and the powerful spirit known as Ariel, played by Cara Gerardi, for company.
Upon seeing the queen’s ship approaching his island, Prospero uses his power to create a storm that will maroon the passengers–forcing the passengers of the ship to wander the island in despair.
One young prince named Ferdinand, played by Aaron Howland, falls for Miranda and is forced to prove his love and worthiness to Prospero in order to gain his approval.
Prospero not only worries about measuring Ferdinand’s worthiness, but also about taking back the control over his own future and control over his traitorous sister’s quest for power.
However, it is the actors–especially the female roles of this production–that help bring the elements of drama, fantasy and comedy.
This play, which is usually performed by an all-male cast, was adapted to incorporate more female characters.
Katherine Wadleigh, as Antonia, Gerardi, who played Ariel, and Molly Millard, in the role of Alonsa not only adapted their characters to fit a female part, but they also embodied power and control. This allowed these actors to give their characters a sense of authenticity.
Wadleigh not only exuded a sense of dark power as Prospero’s villainous sister, but also carried herself with confidence–allowing her to take on a Cruella de Vil persona. “She found ways to make it work. [Wadleigh] has developed a wonderful level of female power,” Peggy Rae Johnson, director of “The Tempest” said.
Connell skillfully played the curious and naïve Miranda in way that gave the character both strength and vulnerability.
Gerardi brought a fresh representation to her character Ariel, encompassing dancer-like steps and movements that showcased a sense of grace and insecurity.
Her movements allowed her to demonstrate a love for her master and a desire for her freedom.
Patterson made the audience fear Prospero’s purposeful sense of power and control, though develops into a more compassionate character.
Patterson also delivered Shakespearean dialogue with emotion, providing a clear understanding of his character’s motives.
But it was the trio of drunken fools–Elissa Fredeen’s Trinculo; Stephano, played by Chris Kelly; and Caliban that not only brought a dose of comedy to the show, but also kept the audience entertained.
Each actor delivered their lines with a subtle humor and amplified their comedy through actions.
Johnson said, “Even in the tragedies, it’s active, it’s incredibly active. Not just in terms of sword fights. Shakespeare was writing for the stage, not for the page.”
However, it was not only the actors that helped bring Shakespeare’s play to life, the show’s set and use of lighting illustrated and conveyed the sense of tension and darkness or the presence of a spirit.
The setting also featured digital effects that accompanied Prospero’s moments of power.
When performing Shakespeare it can be a risk–sometimes these adaptations can be overshadowed by the dialogue present in the production, making it difficult to understand the meaning and emotion.
However, Johnson’s adaption of “The Tempest,” featured actors who not only delivered the dialogue in a way that enhanced the meaning and emotion, but the production also featured actors who maintained a sense of control in their movements, voice range, and emotion.
This production not only invited audience members to join the characters in their quest for love, power and control, but they showed why each of these elements were important to each character.
But these three elements can only get you so far–sometimes it’s one’s moral choices that help define human behavior.
Sam Norton can be contacted at
Wes Serafine can be contacted at