Drama opens doors

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Darkness engulfed a set decorated with painted pink flowers, a centered stairway, and a sketched bone entrance. As the light flashed on again, Cam High’s first play of the year, The Tempest, began, premiering on Thursday Nov. 12 at 7:30 p.m.

The Tempest tells the story of Prospera, a Milanese duchess with magical powers. After being thrown out of royalty with her daughter Miranda, Prospera is forced onto a desolate island by her sister Antonia. Antonia traverses by the island years later, and Prospera, seeking to regain her throne, sends a tempest to bring Antonia’s ship to the island. Three different groups of people, sometimes comedic, sometimes serious, and sometimes cheerful, wander about the island, where the majority of the play’s events unfold, and eventually discover the truth of Prospera’s situation.

The Tempest is a comedy and a fantasy, and it has a lot of characters in it, a lot of roles,” said Mr. Richard Winterstein, director and drama teacher.

“I thought the play went very well. I was happy with the pacing of it, especially the courtier’s scenes,” Winterstein said. “The reason I chose The Tempest is because number one, it’s time for us to do a Shakespearean production again. It’s light, it’s fun, it’s a good experience for young actors to break into doing Shakespeare.”

Mikayla Chun, junior and stage manager for the show, described the struggles the actors encountered as they prepared for the play. “The language is hard to understand, so we had to analyze the words in order for [the actors] to know what they are talking about. Otherwise, it was just a matter of memorization and putting emotion behind the words they were saying.”

Rehearsals often consisted of looking up the meaning behind the Shakespearean language with provided dictionaries, said Winterstein. “The star of this play is not the students. The star is not the director. It is the language,” he said. “If the actors can understand it, then they can communicate to the audience. If they don’t understand, they can’t get the audience to hear, because they won’t say it with any meaning.”

“The emotion that [the actors] have as they are saying their lines is really what is going to bring the play alive,” Chun said.

The lead role of Prospera, played by senior Bhavika Bhagat, was portrayed as a male in the original script by Shakespeare. However, the Cam High version of The Tempest involved several intentional gender switches.

“[Mr. Winterstein] didn’t go by the gender specifics of the role, he just went by who read for [the character] better,” said senior Garrett Pode, who played Lord Adrian and Spirit Juno.

Even after landing the part, understanding Prospera’s role was difficult for Bhagat. “It was challenging to immerse myself into a character that is as far away from my own personality as [it] can be. However, it was a lot of fun, and I’ve learned a lot of Shakespeare,” she said.

Winterstein noted several choice scenes from the showing: the prologue, the marriage scene, the ballerina dance led by Lena Stephenson, daughter of Principal Kim Stephenson, and the performance of two flamboyant male ballerinas. Applause and laughter broke out when two spirits, dressed in bright dresses fitted tightly against their masculine bodies, entered the stage.

But there was still room for improvement. According to Winterstein, the actors needed to implement one major adjustment from their first performance of the year. “I want the students to slow down their speech and let the audience catch up with what they are saying, because it’s old English” he said. “So even though the actors are speaking with good, clipped diction and elocution, if they go too fast, the American ear cannot process it.”

The Tempest will be shown again on Nov. 19, 20, and 21. Tickets cost $5 for students and $10 for adults and are available at the drama room entrance in D-2.