Fall Play Preview: The Tempest

Staff Writer
The 2017 Fall Play is William Shakespeare’s The Tempest. Produced by the UHS Theatre Arts Department, the play opens on Wednesday, November 15 and will continue to run through Saturday, November 18 in the Big Theatre.
The Tempest takes place on an island where the main character, Prospero, the former Duke of Milan, finds himself after he was wronged by his sister, Antonia. Antonia betrays her brother for power and takes his position from him while exiling him and his three-year-old daughter, Miranda, onto an island.
This story relies heavily on the theme of power.
“We are really hoping to do a dark turn on manipulation and codependency as well as how people abuse and use power,” Ranae Bettger (Visual and Performing Arts Dept.) said.
Ellena Eshraghi (Sr.), who plays Miranda, described Shakespeare’s last great play as “dramatic, romantic and funny.”
“It is a story of betrayal and redemption, new beginnings, power, greed and magic,” she said.
Rehearsals began as soon as parts were cast, and were scheduled for three to six days a week as actors built up to practicing for 40 hours in a week. However, now that the play has almost reached opening night, rehearsals are held every day after school as well as on Saturdays for up to twelve hours.
The only female character in the play is technically Miranda. However, other characters have been turned into female roles in order to provide a more fair casting process.
“Fall plays are always tricky because the normal fall play has around 7-10 people,” Bettger said. “The Tempest, however, had 21 main characters and it had a lot of gender flexibility. I could make girls boys and boys girls, so that really appealed to me as well.”
However, dealing with a gender difference can prove to be an obstacle for the actors. Specifically, Amina Khelif (Sr.) expressed the challenge of dealing with that adjustment. Due to her character, Stefana, originally being Stefano, she has had to adapt her character to fit her while maintaining the structure of the character Shakespeare originally created.
“I really have to think more about my character and who she is,” Khelif said.
As for behind the scenes, the Technical Crew has faced their own sets of limitations when producing the set. From using lumber as the structure of each set display, the crew all expressed the stress of not making enough money from the Talent Show and Comedy Sportz matches, which serve as the financial basis for the production.
“We always have [a] financial strain,” set creator Sheridan Mapstone (Sr.) explained. “We essentially make the set and figure out how to make up the cost difference later.”
Additional fundraisers will be held such as the “Minute To Give” segment that will be held every night while the play is going on. During this minute the audience is encouraged to give as much money they can before the clock runs out of time.
Bettger shared that “[the department] tries to keep the fall play between $12,000 to $20,000 [in production cost].” She also confessed that she would not actually know how much they have spent until the weekend before opening night.
Not only has money been an issue for the technical crew, but they also abruptly switched technical directors.
“Switching directors was a pretty big change because we were used to a certain style of setting up for Saturdays [rehearsals] and pitching designs,” crew member Elizabeth Zaragoza (Sr.) said. Zaragoza explained that everything ultimately turned out perfectly and even confessed that it was actually “really interesting because it wasn’t only the older technicians that had to work, [they] saw the new technicians having to work harder than they anticipated which brought a sense of teamwork.”
The sense of morale among this crew was clearly evident. “It is super corny but we are a family,” Mapstone expressed.
Bettger added a similar sense of pride. “They are the most talented cast we’ve had in a play since 2009,” she said.
Bettger’s overall hopes for The Tempest is that “it will be well attended.” Ultimately, she wanted to hone in on the talent that this group of kids has, stating that “even the smallest roles in the show could have easily been kids that could have played the lead.”
Tickets will be available online at www.seatyourself.biz/iusd, costing $10 for House seating with ASB, $13 for House seating without ASB and $20 for Orchestra seating.