“Can you hear me now?”
“Your micropone is still on mute.”
“Crap, I think we just lost Trinculo.”
“Somehow this bottle completely disappears into the background. Got a different bottle?”
“Alonso, Sebastian is to your right and Antonia above your left shoulder.”
“No, your other right.”
“Here’s a sreenshot, everyone.”
“Why is this not working? I can hear everyone now but nobody can hear me. Now I can’t hear anyone anymore, but they can hear me… what’s going on?”
I stopped counting how often these sentences were uttered in the last four weeks. But we managed — sound, video, backgrounds, passing props from one frame to the next — all sorted. It’s been quite a journey. Now let’s start acting.
“Oh brave new world that has such people in it” or: theatres are allowed to open again, so why keeping the Tempest digital?
While the Bavarian Government opened the possibility for theatres to be back from 15 June, albeit with mighty restrictions, team Tempest decided to remain digital. I believe that outdoor theatre carries a specific mission. This mission is based on the idea to be open for all and everyone to come by, drop in, to join us without restrictions, bring along their family and friends and seat themselves in their convenient way, as outdoor theatre does. Currently it is impossible to accommodate for this. So, let’s stay digital. Let’s stay safe. Let’s entertain.
Why choose The Tempest? The Tempest is believed to be one of Shakespeare’s last plays, if not the last. As such it lends itself to be read as Shakespeare’s farewell from the professional theatre business, with Shakespeare rendering his farewell with Prospero’s epilogue. Maybe one can also read it as a farewell to lockdown? What will the world be like when we all meet again?
The play, specifically written to be performed indoors with its first recorded performance dating to 1611 at the court of James I, rings in a new staging practise. Similarly, for this digital project, directors and stage managment had to come up with some unique ideas to adapt to virtual staging. This also meant that actors had to accommodate for the missing scenery and set by setting up a home film-studio in their living rooms or bedrooms. Some were even banned to the cellar by their families for rehearsals. It’s a hard life in theatre business… Isolation fun?
In Renaissance time, the shift indoors also brought along opportunities. The different acoustics allowed more subtle and quiet music to be used; a candlelit theatre created the famous fourth wall and as such drew the audience into an illusion, created on stage. Think about all the magic tricks that could now be performed. And we also have some that we can’t wait to show you.
Costumes became more precious as they no longer were exposed to the wind and the rain… We know that Inigo Jones (1573-1652), architect and contemporary of Shaksepeare, designed the costumes for the play’s sophisticated and stilised Wedding Masque.
Our Wedding Masque looks superb. Beautiful music and singing, and wonderful costumes. But beware when those spirits turn into harpies…
So here we are. Are we “such stuff as dreams are made on?” Possibly. Stranded in the virtual world, we’re trying to connect to the real world. We’ll zoom ourselves to you. The first four weeks have been quite an interesting journey.
How interesting? Stay tuned. I’ll talk some more about it next time. There are some entertaining facts coming up to be shared with you all.
The Tempest — a digital project will be streamed on Entity Theatre’s YouTube channel in July. More info on http://www.entitytheatre.com.