Minnesota State University, Mankato’s latest theater production is Shakespeare’s The Tempest, which opens November 4 at MNSU’s Andreas Theatre.
According to the department’s description of the show, it follows former Duke of Milan, Prospero, and his daughter Miranda who live on an island after being exiled from their previous homeland. Prospoero then creates a shipwreck to bring his enemies to the island. Throughout the show, there are themes of magic, betrayal, family, and, of course, love.
Director Matt Caron’s interpretation of this story pulls in more Victorian steampunk elements, at least in costuming and set design. From the long, lush outer coats to patterned waistcoats and neckerchiefs, the costumes were decidedly un-Shakespearean, only made better through gold gear and goggle detailing.
“We like to call the costumes and set as “Diet Steampunk,” Carson said.
“The Tempest is one of Shakespeare’s more fantastical plays and lends itself to many different conceptualizations,” Caron said. “Our version blends magic and steampunk, but the story remains the same — we still see themes of love and forgiveness.”
Another thing Caron noted about the show is that the magic is relatively spectacular.
“With a mix of the text itself and the actors intensifying certain moments,” he said, “our dynamic lighting and evocative sounds create memorable moments in the show. It is visually and auditorily spectacular.”
This sentiment is particularly visible in the opening scene that presumably gave the show its title. Prospero creates a magnificent storm, which is shown through creating lightning flashes, deep rumbles of thunder and waves, and fog pumped around the stage as if it were sea spray.
The actors’ voices are played through overhead speakers, creating an echoing, god-like effect. The scene opens the show magnificently.
Caron added on, “Creating the show was quite a ride. With the delay from COVID-19 cases, it really challenged us as a group to come together after the quarantine. We’d typically be at the fourth show of the season, but this is only the third.”
The show is running as well as expected, he said, and the pause in the season was just that, a pause. Carson did note that understudies were added to this show, saying, “It’s helpful to have that safety net, and the students are truly tireless workers.”
The Tempest will be running in the Andreas Theater from Nov. 4-8, and from Nov. 11-15 with tickets available online on their website.