Ethan Interview   Ariel & Puppets

Ethan Interview Ariel & Puppets

Prospero’s got everyone on the island under his thumb, and we made a big design choice
to demonstrate that with Ariel, who’s a captured spirit, and Ariel’s costume is largely informed
by ropes, and she flies on a very visible tether. The visible rope that carries Ariel
is echoed by the chains that are around Caliban, and, in a way, I think, point in the direction
of another big choice we’ve made, which is to have a puppet element in the play. The
play has several very big theatrical set pieces. There’s the shipwreck that begins it, which
I love because I think it’s—it reminds one of the shipwreck in “Twelfth Night,” but,
when Shakespeare wrote “Twelfth Night,” he started the play after the shipwreck, with
everyone washing up on the beach, and I feel like this was his chance. He was like, “You
wanna see a shipwreck? I got a shipwreck for you!” There’s a banquet scene, a magic banquet
scene that’s prepared for the conspirators that is then dominated by Ariel appearing
as a harpy in kind of winged vengeance. That’s a very big set piece moment, and there’s this
masque, and, in the middle of the second part of the play, Prospero presents this magic
masque as his offering of celebration to his daughter, Miranda, and her husband-to-be,
Ferdinand, and it’s always an interesting struggle to figure out how to represent that.
The masque was a form of theatrical innovation that was becoming very popular in the early
17th Century, when this play was written. It was courtly, it involved some new stage
mechanics that had recently come into being. It involved some new and evolving concepts
of singing and dancing, and, in fact, I think it becomes something that was sort of expected,
and, in a way, Shakespeare sort of has to put one into this play, so, what he does,
rather brilliantly, is he folds it into the narrative action, and, rather than it being
something that sort of stands alone, it becomes Prospero’s masque.

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