By CATHERINE ELLERTON
Moapa Valley Progress
The Utah Shakespeare Festival returned to Moapa Valley on Monday, Jan 29 to perform Shakespeare’s Tempest in its 2018 Touring Company’s Shakespeare-in-the Schools Production.
Their first performance was in Cedar City and the second in Moapa Valley as they head out on a three month tour with 70 shows in 65 theatres throughout the Southwest.
There are 10 members of this ensemble – 7 actors (many of whom play several parts) and 3 managers.
Devery North is the Company Manager on her third tour with the organization. North is responsible for keeping it all together. Christopher Duval is the Director and Ryan Turpin is the Technical Director who is also the Audio Supervisor at the Festival.
The ensemble rolled into town early that Monday morning, unpacked the set and costumes and started to put it all together.
They took a break and several of the actors wandered off to teach workshops to the MVHS Theatre Dept. students. Tony Sloan, who hopes to share the magic of Shakespeare with future generations; and Stefanie Resnick, a graduate of UNLV, join together to teach Improv – learning to listen, react and act. Christobal Iniguez Perez, a graduate of Utah State University, and Ava Kostia, a graduate of the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland, take on a spirited workshop in Stage Combat – eye contact, preparation, spot target, action, reaction.
The actors then returned back to the stage and finished the sets, making sure the props were in order, and taking a short dinner break. They returned to rehearse, presented the evening play, hosted a question and answer period, striked the set, packed it all up and headed out for their next show – all in one day.
These historic plays have been “rewritten” to be shorter and yet relevant and understandable. In fact, one could surmise that this is the first musical rewrite?
Ariel, as played by Ava Kostia, is a Spirit who does the bidding of Prospero who was left on an island with his daughter following a violent storm. Ariel sings the narrations between scenes or to explain the events that are to unfold. Prospero has found a magic stick, has a book and has a slave, the island’s only inhabitant – Caliban, to do his bidding.
Twelve years later another storm leaves more people stranded on the island, all of whom are enemies or family, one way or the other.
There is a clever bit as two of the actors head to toe, on top of each other, covered with a cloth representing water, squirm to and fro as other actors speak above them. The dexterity and coordination of these actors was amazing. The costume changes between characters backstage must have been awesome to watch. They are indeed quick change artists.
Throughout the unfolding story, the actors wandered through the audience and encouraged them to clap along – to be part of the story.
Soon Prospero’s daughter is married, his project is finished, freedom is given to the slave and Spirit, all is forgiven and the characters come together.
In the Director’s words: “All tempests are completely transformed by the discovery of true goodness and forgiveness, deep compassion, and the inevitable changes that develop within any human connection that places compassionate vulnerability as its foundation.”
These performances are sponsored in part by MVPAC, Individual Partners for the Arts which include Nevada Arts Council, America First Credit Union, Grant and Laurel Bushman, Moapa Valley Telephone Company, Dr. Lance K. Robertson, Moapa Valley Chamber of Commerce and the Board of County Commissioners.