We are currently sitting in tech rehearsal for THE TEMPEST at American Rep, a show that we built and sent to Vegas earlier this year. With magic designed by Teller (of Penn & Teller) and music written by Tom Waits and Kathleen Brennan, this production promises to be a blast.
The Tempest is one of my favorite Shakespeare shows. It is widely regarded as Shakespeare's farewell to the playwrighting world, a remarkable example of authorial self-representation in a fantastical work. Prospero, the Duke of Milan, was betrayed 12 years ago and stranded on an island with his young daughter Miranda. His love of knowledge and constant study allows Prospero to use magic to employ spirits (the mischievous Ariel) and to manipulate the forces that be to restore his daughter to power and cast down his enemies. Among the many themes in this show, the ones that have always stood out to me are forgiveness and redemption.
ART's production of The Tempest is already a hit. The music is dark and striking. The magic is eerie and hair-raising. The acting is superb, for an American Shakespeare. And call me biased, but the set and lighting are pretty awesome.
Coming home to Cambridge is very exciting for everyone involved. Moving from the Vegas space to the Loeb center certainly presents some challenges-- a different show deck, some elements of the set used in one space but not the other, changes in lighting angles and sound levels, some blocking changes for the actors, but overall it's fairly nice to mount a show that has already been assembled once.
This has been a long week! I started Sunday with the electrics crew, unloading trucks from Vegas and rental gear. Luckily, most of the lights were hung in advance for the show since ART's last big show (The Shape She Makes) was in a different space, so all we had to put in the air were some moving lights, color scrollers, and cabling. Sunday was also a lot of organizing what came off of the trucks-- props and scenery, costumes, lighting equipment, sound gear. On Monday and Tuesday I worked for the scene shop loading the set itself in. It was a fair amount of heavy work. The theater is set up as a big proscenium, complete with raised deck (this was a process to create with ART's moving seat wagons and the various elevator portions of what could be stage space). There is a beautiful show deck, second and third levels, spiral stairs and various things for the cast to climb on and play on. Without giving too much away, I will say there are pillars sloping outward giving the set a fantastic, sprawling feel. Add exotic touches like a high crow's nest and clamshells, and we've got a dark, watery scene for the show.
Since Tuesday I've been working on electrics again. I'm also a spotlight operator on the show, so having myself and the other spot op, Kevin, be familiar with the hang and focus for the show is a good idea so we can fix things and perform maintenance during the run. Electrics has been challenging because there are a lot of pieces that light up in the set and also, the set is extremely tall and therefore the lights are very high in the air and hard to get to! Here on day 3 of technical rehearsals we're in good shape, but everything from complex LED's getting wired to confusing changes from Vegas to our rental spotlights being cruddy, have really made this load in a challenge. Rehearsals are going smoothly however, since we're all working on inserting the show into a new space instead of doing it for the first time.
These busy weeks are the best! The Tempest runs for one month here in Cambridge. Don't miss out! For production photos, videos, and tickets, please visit the A.R.T. website here.