Nick Rowley has been following the blog for some time and recently became a member of Magenta Giraffe Theatre Company’s board of directors. He attended the second performance of The Tempest and records his thoughts here.
Saturday was fascinating for a number of reasons.
When considering the performance itself, I was impressed by how much enthusiasm and energy the participants brought to their roles. There were varying levels of memorization of lines and this, I think, influenced characterization, but this is not unexpected and perfectly fine; the ability of the ensemble to work together far outweighs the differences in individual performance. However, among the individual performances I was very impressed by The Boatswain and the triad of Caliban, Stephano and Trinculo who, individually, embodied their characters in ways that displayed a firm grasp on how they personally conceived them, coupled with strong talents for physical comedy (which came in handy for the section where Prospero conveyed to Miranda the story of how they came by to dwell on the Island, a story which is presented as Dumbshow by the actors who played Stephano and Trinculo as the Duke tells his story) and, as a group, worked with fantastic theatrical cohesion providing delightful comic moments.
However, the thing that struck me most was not the performance per se but rather the sense of happiness and achievement that emanated from all the participants. It could be seen in the slight self-deprecation from Prospero as her friends praised her performance, in the reaction and conversation between Trinculo and members of the audience before and after the performance, in the keenness of the cast to set up and get things going prior to our arrival. It would not be surprising to discover that happiness isn’t in surplus abundance for the participants in the program, but their involvement in it provides that and, moreover, seems to provide a sense of palpable accomplishment. This, beyond all else, is the greatest benefit of the program; it provides growth and success to those who may not have known either to any great degree previously.
The final performance is on Tuesday and the play for the next session is still to be chosen, but I’m really looking forward to hearing about how that performance goes and which play is chosen; no doubt the program will continue to provide fascinating performances and enrichment for its participants.