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"Our revels now are ended"

As the Shakespeare Lives digital festival draws to a close we celebrate the playwright's final non-collaborative play, The Tempest, with related content from all the Shakespeare Lives partner organisations and more.

The Tempest is thought to have been written around 1610-11 and is set on a remote island ruled by Prospero, formerly Duke of Milan, with the only other inhabitants being his daughter Miranda and two magical beings, the monstrous Caliban and the spirit Ariel.

The play begins with the tempest of the title as Prospero uses his magic to summon a storm which shipwrecks his enemies, who deposed him, on the island...

From the BFI

The Magic Behind Derek Jarman's 1979 Film of The Tempest

Discover how Derek Jarman expressed his unique vision of Shakespeare's The Tempest.

So what happens in The Tempest? Watch the RSC's unique synopsis film

Miranda's Letter; a story inspired by Shakespeare's The Tempest from the British Council

The Tempest at the RSC

The Royal Shakespeare Company's forthcoming production of The Tempest in Stratford-upon-Avon is a groundbreaking partnership with Intel and The Imaginarium Studios, making use of today’s most advanced technology in a bold reimagining of Shakespeare’s magical play.

Creating The Tempest

Prospero meets Ariel

Hay Festival: Talking About Shakespeare

Hay Festival: Talking About Shakespeare celebrates Shakespeare’s 400th anniversary. Short films from the world’s leading actors and academics, playwrights and directors, poets and novelists give insight into Shakespeare’s contemporary resonance and his understanding of our human hearts.

The Tempest at the Royal Opera House

The composer Thomas Adès in his first Royal Opera commission The Tempest created the central role of Prospero for the British baritone Simon Keenlyside. Adès envisaged Prospero as a young, vigorous man rather than an elderly magician, and chose Keenlyside not only for his vocal gifts but also for his skill as a physical actor.

Adès also wrote the spectacularly high and virtuosic role of the spirit Ariel for the American coloratura soprano Cyndia Sieden. The part is one of the hardest written for soprano: it ranges higher than the Queen of the Night in Mozart's The Magic Flute, and the singer has to sing 17 high Es in the first few minutes of her first scene. Not surprisingly, Sieden is one of the few singers who can perform the role of Ariel (her singing at the world premiere of The Tempest was described as ‘almost out of this world’ by the Guardian). She has sung the part in four different productions of the opera.

Other singers in the world premiere cast of The Tempest may have influenced Adès’s writing. For example, Adès’s first Caliban was the British lyric tenor Ian Bostridge, whose particular vocal quality suits Adès’s concept of the role, more wistful and lyrical than Shakespeare’s original.

(From: A tailor made trio of operas on the Royal Opera House website)

Watch a clip from Shakespeare's Globe's The Complete Walk: The Tempest

Shakespeare's Globe The Complete Walk: The Tempest

Starring Douglas Hodge, filmed at St Catherine's Fort and various locations, Bermuda

Living Shakespeare: Dame Evelyn Glennie on The Tempest (UK)

A BBC/ The Open University/ British Council collaboration

Shakespeare Trilogy

This autumn the Shakespeare Trilogy of all-female productions, produced by Phyllida Lloyd and starring Harriet Walter will conclude with The Tempest in a new 420-seat in-the-round temporary theatre at London's King’s Cross.

The Tempest cast by Helen Maybanks

The productions began in 2012 with an all-female Julius Caesar and continued in 2014 with Henry IV.

"The premise was to take the most voiceless group you might imagine - women prisoners. Refugees from our culture if you like - people without any access to the internet even - and watch them electrify an audience with nothing but Shakespeare's language. Harriet's work ethic defines the whole thing. Mighty verse speaking, the utmost humility and the greatest good humour. The company will follow her anywhere." (Phyllida Lloyd)

Breaking down gender barriers in Shakespeare

Forbidden Planet (USA, 1956)

The Tempest takes us to a remote island ruled by an exiled Duke-turned-magician, who lives with his beautiful, naïve daughter, Miranda. The delightful Forbidden Planet sends a 23rd-century Universal Planets spaceship – skippered by unflappable Commander Adams (Leslie Nielsen) – to a remote planet, Altair-4, ruled by the bearded, refined Dr. Morbius (Walter Pidgeon), who has harnessed ‘magical’ scientific power and lives happily with his beautiful, naïve daughter, Altaira (mini-skirted Anne Francis). She, like Miranda, has “never known any human being except her father”, and falls for Adams, just as Miranda falls for Ferdinand. All the human characters compete with a scene-stealing performance by Robby the Robot, the Ariel counterpart who serves Morbius. Prospero’s quest for revenge against the men who drove him into exile is here replaced by a hokey plot involving “monsters from the Id”.

Image source: BFI National Archive

When the film reached Britain, the Evening Standard’s critic Alan Brien’s review was headlined “Shakespeare takes a journey into space” and he praised Cyril Hume for writing “the most rumbustiously enjoyable of all Hollywood planetary melodramas, apparently by dressing The Tempest in space suits.”

From The united nations of screen Shakespeare by Dr Daniel Rosenthal

Nigel Hawthorne as Stephano and Warren Clarke as Caliban in the BBC's 1980 production of The Tempest

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