To acquire wisdom, one must observe

‘The Tempest’ storms into the SCC

For four nights starting April 4, an abridged version of Shakespeare’s “The Tempest” showed in the Shapiro Campus Center theater. This stage play engaged its audiences with a mix of acting, storytelling and dance. “The Tempest” was one of Shakespeare’s last plays, as director Naomi Stephenson ’26 notes in the program. This play traditionally featured a group of nobles that ran afoul of a terrible storm (hence, tempest, or “violent windstorm … commotion, disturbance or tumult”, according to dictionary.com) and landed on a magical island under the rule of a vengeful ex-noble with unearthly powers. As most Shakespearean plays do, this features romance, back-stabbery and two drunken fools. Some liberties have been taken with the original. Adagio and Brandeis Ballet Company dancers (Eliza Bier ’26, Grace Delaney ’26, Ellie Greene ’25, Viviana Leach ’26, Anna Martin ’26 and Nonie McColgan ’25) symbolize the spirits of the island, not traditionally present in the script. They accompanied the island spirit Ariel (Phoenix Feldman ’27). The play was also condensed to run in 2 hours, as opposed to the original 3.

In this version of the play, Stephenson presents three distinct but intertwined storylines, all pertaining to the magic of the island and a plan for revenge for Prospero (Laurel Kane ’26). The storyline introduced to the audience first features Prospero, Miranda (Abby Tang ’26) and Ferdinand (Tristan Hearth ’27). The actors were immediately dynamic, engaging and full of heart. Prospero is complicated both in character and morals; on one hand a vicious dictator over her island, hell-bent on revenge against her brother, and on the other hand, a caring mother to Miranda. Miranda is a passionate character across the board, in her loyalty to her mother, her love for Ferdinand and her fit of anger towards Caliban (JT Dickstein ’27). Caliban represents the complexity of both the original play and this adaptation, according to Stephenson in her note about the production. He is a slave to Prospero and seeks to kill her so he can rule the island. This is complicated by the fact that he might not be native to the island himself, as his mother is Sycorax (not seen in the play), a foreigner. Nativity is an important part of the plot, Stephenson even noted in her forward that interpretations of this play often questions who is truly native to the island.

The second of the three main character groupings features Stephano the butler (Noa Rubinstein ’27) and Trinculo the fool (Triona Suiter ’27) as the token drunken comic relief. Their performances were anything but overdone, with loud, boisterous singing, stumbling and a quick beatboxing scene to showcase Stephano’s flawless flossing skills. Caliban joins in Stephano and Trinculo’s merrymaking and they plot to kill Prospero and rule the island together. 

The final plotline follows Ferdinand’s father King Alonso (Noah Osofsky ’27) and his advisor Gonzalo (Annette Pinstein ’25), as well as his two sons. The younger comic relief Sebastian (Cailean Flippinger ’27) and Antonio (Conner Beaney ’25), the fraudulent Duke of Milan in place of Prospero. This group sees its share of backstabbing, quite literally at one point. 

Combining these threads is Ariel. Stephenson notes that her interpretation of this play is heavily inspired by this nature spirit. This is shown through his frequent, evocative performances and the effects that follow him across the stage, such as well timed sound effects and echoing intonations, as well as the graceful dancers that enact Ariel’s sphere of influence throughout the show. The dancers wear similar costumes of sheer pastels, which are a slight variation  from Ariel’s darker navy pastel costume and a stark contrast to the early seventeenth century costumes of the rest. These dancers often encircled the other actors individually or as a group to represent a magical spell and combined with changes in the lighting, the effect was ethereal. The entire play was done with the same set, which conveyed the natural beauty and wildness of the island.

Some key points throughout the play are the touching moments between the characters, including Miranda and Prospero, Ariel and Prospero (“Do you love me, mistress?”), Trinculo and Stephano and of course, Miranda and Ferdinand. As a whole, this play utilized dramatic scenes and characters in close, relatable relationships. Towards the end of the play, Prospero undergoes a dramatic change in character, which is made believable and heartfelt to the audience by the genuine portrayal of the events leading up to this part. 

Hold Thy Peace’s adaptation of Shakespeare’s “The Tempest” is a heartfelt, thought provoking play that combines the beauty and wilderness of magic, love and loyalty. It contains the traditional, well loved aspects of a Shakespearean play with its typical archetypes, reimagined with beautiful costuming, graceful dancing, spot-on effects, enchanting scenery and expressive actors. 

Editor’s note: Arts editor Naomi Stephenson ’26 and staff writer Laurel Kane ’26 did not participate in the writing or editing of this article.

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