The air was chilly last Saturday night at Isla Vista’s Anisq ‘Oyo’ Park, where UCSB students put on a free production of William Shakespeare’s The Tempest. Performed by members of UCSB’s spring theater course, “Group Studies in Acting and Directing: Shakespeare in the Park,” along with the I.V. Arts, the play was directed by Theater and Dance Department instructor Gerry Hansen. The Tempest featured a wide array of talent and among its cast and crew members.
The play commenced about 15 minutes later than 7 p.m. scheduled start time, giving audience members ample time to settle comfortably amongst their spread blankets in the intimate grassy amphitheater. The Tempest was first performed in 1611 by Shakespeare’s renowned theater company, the Kings Men (formerly known as The Lord Chamberlin’s Men under Queen Elizabeth I reign). Categorized under Shakespeare Comedies, this dynamic, play met positive reception in King James I court and has since become a staple in many performing arts education programs.
The under-the-stars nature of Saturday night’s performance seemed to pay homage to the original outdoor Globe Theater in London, where many of Shakespeare’s works were first performed. In UCSB’s version of what is believed to be Shakespeare’s last written play, creative liberties were taken when it came to costuming and casting. Swap the breeches and corsets for Victorian top hats and sundresses as well as the some of the originally male characters with female cast members.
The protagonists included the talented Danielle De La O, who played Prospera (Prospero in the original play), the usurped duke-now-duchess of Milan who uses her magic to thwart her enemies; Lexi Scanlan as Prospera’s gentle and unassuming daughter, Miranda; and Austin Jiang as Ferdinand, Miranda’s love interest. In addition to the leads, the secondary characters were also impressive: Emily Hansen as Caliban, the spiteful servant of Prospera; and Matilda Mead and Cody Shindelbower as the hapless mariners, who entertained with their impressive drunken impressions.
Comprised of five acts, The Tempest was a relatively short but memorable production that conveyed the appropriate amount of drama, humor, and intrigue evident in most of Shakespeare’s comedies.