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Brandeis University's Community Newspaper — Waltham, Mass.

Words, words, words with Tempest’s director

Published: November 3, 2006
Section: Arts, Etc.

Continuing the Hoots ongoing series of interviews with student directors, this week I had a chance to sit down with Dina Maron 08, director of Hold thy Peaces production of The Tempest, and ask her a few questions about the show as its opening approaches.

Hoot: Shakespeare wrote some forty plays in the course of his life. Why did you choose this play particularly?

Dina Maron: I chose The Tempest for a couple reasons. It is really unique out of Shakespeares shows, in part because it was written towards the end of his life, it was potentially the last play he ever wrote, and in part because it provides a lot of background for each of its characters: Their relationships, their thoughts and feelings, how they came to be, why they are driven to take certain actions. Its interesting because its a comedic show but it also has elements of tragedy in it, it explores elements of humanity as well as those of the supernatural, so it kind of has something for everybody. The Tempest is also a script Im very familiar with, Ive acted in two productions of it before;

that also led to my choosing this because I am very familiar with the text.

Hoot: What is The Tempest about?

DM: A short summary of the actual show is that it revolves around the actions of Prospero, the people in his life, and the people in his natural surroundings. Prospero was the Duke of Milan until he was usurped by his brother and King Alonzo twelve years ago. Then he was put upon a wrack, a bad ship, and ended up where he has been for the last twelve years with his daughter, interacting solely with his daughter, a savage named Caliban, and many spirits including the powerful Ariel. For the last twelve years he has been fine-tuning his magical powers that actually led to his being usurped in the first place, since he was more focused on his magical pursuits than exploring his kingdom. Now hes finally gotten the opportunity to have revenge, if you will, on the royal party that initially angered him. The play explores whether or not revenge is satisfying after twelve years, Miranda has her first encounter with love, and supernatural characters express some human emotions. Its a real exploration of emotions and its really quite interesting for the audience in the way things play out as well. We have the stereotypical bawdy Shakespearean comic relief to more enthuse the masses as well, so theres that dynamic to the show. This particular production is unique as well in that theres a musical aspect to it. Deniz Cordell [07] wrote some music for us for the wedding masque scene, and also Kevin Gardner, a professional actor from New Hampshire, wrote some music for the show as well and has allowed us to sample from it, which has been wonderful.

Hoot: Would you like to tell us a little bit about your cast?

DM: As people might know, in traditional Shakespeare shows the cast was entirely made of men, a smaller troupe of actors, some of whom would play multiple parts. In this production, however, apart from our mariners also playing the goddesses Iris, Ceres, and Juno in our wedding masque, everybody else is playing one part and it presents a lot of opportunity to grow for individual actors. So, we have a cast of I believe eighteen, and all the actors are really wonderful, hard-working individuals that are helping our show to come along. Were sporting a lot of first- and second-year actors as well, which is really exciting for the future of Hold Thy Peace, because traditionally Hold Thy Peace productions have a lot of actors of the same year and then we run into conflicts for those actors as years go by. As you also might know, we have recently applied to join the UTC and that is under consideration right now, so to add our body of younger actors to the UTC and vice versa, to have that opportunity is very appealing.

Hoot: What would you say has been the focal point of your direction of this production?

DM: Id have to say the relationships between characters that are grown throughout this production, which is very exciting. I was very interested in this production in building relationships, especially Prospero and Miranda, Antonio and Sebastian, and Prospero and Ariel, and having those emotions and those characters progress throughout the show, and then to see an actual change by the end of the show similar to the way people change and grow in their actual lives. Thats been very exciting and the actors have achieved that in a way thats very inspirational, thats what I was really going for.

Hoot: Your production is to be a traditional, period interpretation of the play. How are you addressing the challenges that this poses from a design standpoint?

DM: We are going for a more minimalist set, which is also true to original Shakespearean productions, where you wouldnt have that many things that were accessible to you. Our set is pretty simple, were making great use of the cyc [the hanging screen in the back of the stage that often has color projected onto it behind a scenes action] in this particular production. As you might know, The Tempest is a play that is very focused on the visual aspect, starting with the tempest, which is a giant storm. Well be utilizing the cyc for that purpose and Quinn Barbour [06], our delightful lighting designer, has got some wonderful tricks up her sleeves that Im not going to spoil for her. The period costumes have been a challenge for Hold Thy Peace because our costume closet is not large, so my co-costume designers, Nina Hurwitz [09] and Kayla Brinberg [09], have essentially had to make things from scratch, which has been quite draining on them, but with beautiful results. JoJo Lazar [07], our makeup designer, has also taken the time to make masks for our show, which are very unique and fitting for the period. I think the design stuff has really complemented the hard work of our actors, and together they will create a very aesthetically-pleasing performance.

Hoot: What other shows have you seen this semester on campus that you really enjoyed and what shows are you looking forward to seeing?

DM: I just saw The Goat this past weekend, which was very exciting. I havent actually gotten a chance to see a Free Play show yet this semester, in part because Ive been working so hard on The Tempest, but Im very interested to see what theyre doing with this new movement on-campus and working in non-traditional spaces.

Hoot: Quickly, give us the vital information!

DM: The show opens Friday, Nov. 3 at 8 p.m. and has two more performances Saturday, Nov. 4 at 2 p.m. and 8 p.m. We are performing in the Shapiro Theater. Tickets will be available during lunch in Usdan on Friday. It is $5 for tickets bought in advance and $6 at the door.