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Reviewed by:
  • The Tempest
  • Alaina Jobe Pangburn
The Tempest Presented by the Dallas Theater Center, Dallas, Texas. September 9-October 9, 2011. Directed by Kevin Moriarty. Scenic and Costume Design by Beowulf Boritt. Lighting Design by Clifton Taylor. Sound Design and Composition by Broken Chord. Speech and Voice Coaching by Thom Jones. With J. Brent Alford (Antonio), Christopher Carlos (Sebastian), Chamblee Ferguson (Prospero), John Paul Green (Adrian), Hunter Ryan Herdlicka (Ariel), John Dana Kenning (Francisco), Cliff Miller (Trinculo), Joe Nemmers (Caliban), David Price (Master of Ship), Jerry Russell (Gonzalo), Abbey Siegworth (Miranda), Matthew Tomlanovich (Alonso), Lee Trull (Stephano), and Steven Michael Walters (Ferdinand).

"O brave new world" might well describe the Dallas Theater Center's production of The Tempest. Visually, the production was stunning. Set in a contemporary world, this Tempest managed to capture all that is best about Shakespeare's romances: the sound, the spectacle, the emotion. The [End Page 172] ship became a plane; before curtain, the audience could see the white outline of a jet on the floor of the stage, with actual plane seats set inside its confines. At curtain, the storm shook the plane and a flight attendant's reassuring voice asked the passengers to remain calm. As the wind became stronger, the voice of a worried pilot reported the impending crash and white noise filled the theatre. With a crescendo of sound, we saw Prospero standing behind the wrinkled white scrim, atop a rocky promontory that took center stage. As the plane seats were sucked into a hole in the center of the stage, Prospero calmed the storm with his upraised staff. Afterwards, the scrim lifted to reveal the truly gorgeous set, a bright, whitewashed island that evoked winter and the beach, a blank canvas for magic. A few bare trees dotted the landscape and the stage floor looked as if it were covered with snow. The ripped paper ridge backdrop and nearly everything in the set was in varying shades of white, allowing for a range of lighting throughout the performance.

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Fig. 8.

Chamblee Ferguson as Prospero, Steven Michael Walters as Ferdinand, and Abbey Siegworth as Miranda in Dallas Theater Center's 2011 production of The Tempest, directed by Kevin Moriarty. Photo courtesy of Karen Almond.

The costuming echoed the bleached look of the production; Miranda, watching the crash from her perch on the rock, wore a white button-down shirt and jeans, her hair in a ponytail. Later, she wore a white shift dress. Prospero's "magic garment" was a trench coat worn over a white [End Page 173] shirt with light khaki pants. The entourage from Milan wore suits, but as the performance went on, ties were lost, wrinkles formed, and the black suits became whiter as the grime of the inescapable island permeated their clothing. Ariel and Caliban wore white pants, were bare-chested, and had light makeup in their hair and on their skin. But while Ariel was dusted with glitter and wore blue contacts that gave his eyes an otherworldly appearance, Caliban was covered with leprous black spots on his face, chest, and arms. The only incongruous note in the costuming was Trinculo and Stephano donning Juicy Couture-type velour track suits and gold necklaces stolen from Prospero's cave.

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Fig. 9.

Hunter Ryan Herdlicka as Ariel and Chamblee Ferguson as Prospero in Dallas Theater Center's 2011 production of The Tempest, directed by Kevin Moriarty. Photo courtesy of Karen Almond.

Ultimately, the fulcrum of any production of The Tempest is Prospero. He drives the action of the play and the audience must be aware of why he goes to such lengths to exact revenge but also to tie up loose ends in his various relationships. Prospero can either be seen as someone in pursuit of petty retribution or as a man with a more selfless desire to set wrongs right for his daughter's sake. Chamblee Ferguson's Prospero, in the prime [End Page 174] of his life, was strong, calculating, and nearly always in complete control, attempting to get things in order before laying aside his magical power. In the aftermath of...


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