Set Me Free: Notes on a Director’s Note

I always struggle to write director’s notes for the programme. This is what I have so far for Set Me Free. Comments and suggestions are very welcome.

Samuel Taylor Coleridge said that The Tempest ‘addresses itself entirely to the imaginative faculty’. In our version of the play, we have sought to imagine ways in which movement and music might substitute for poetry. As a result, the text you will hear tonight serves a storytelling function rather than a poetic one. As Laura discusses below, we’ve cut away a significant amount of Shakespeare’s words and attempted to create The Tempest with bodies in space and with non-verbal sounds as much as possible. This means that certain parts of the play as it is set down in the Folio have been abstracted or obscured, whilst others have been highlighted. We have imagined a world in which a lovely young woman on pointe can play Caliban, Ariel can be comprised of four actors, and Alonso and Anthonio can have female bodies and male voices. We also have the advantage of having a practicing pagan as our Prospero, lending us the opportunity to explore the realities of magical arts, both in Shakespeare’s time and our own.

Our inspirations range from Sir Ian McKellan to a sea shanty to a production of The Tempest done in Buffalo, New York; our movement vocabulary has been drawn from Viewpoints, yoga, Laban, ballet, modern dance, stage combat, and everything in between. We’ve significantly rearranged and sometimes reinterpreted what text we have left. Our cast is a collective of postgraduate and undergraduate students with a huge range of movement backgrounds and abilities. And, somehow, we hope to create a cohesive and entertaining experience for you here this evening.

It’s been a challenge, to say the least, but we’ve had an awful lot of fun along the way. I think I speak for the entire cast when I say that this has been a journey of learning, and one whose lessons we will never forget. We’ve been stretched creatively and intellectually, and we hope that you will be, too.  Now address yourselves to your imaginative faculties, and enjoy the show.

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