In my first of three post-show Q&As this year with Lazarus Theatre, I was at Greenwich Theatre for this pioneering ensemble company’s exciting re-examination of Shakespeare’s The Tempest. Sure, we’ve had Prospero played by a woman before – not least Vanessa Redgrave, Helen Mirren and Harriet Walter – but what happens when you take the gender-flipping of this 400-year-old play even further?
Think you know Shakespeare classic The Tempest? But what happens if Prospero is a woman? And Miranda is a young man? How does a mother-son relationship differ from that of a father-daughter? And how do the implications change with a male Miranda’s budding love for heir-apparent Ferdinand?
Throw in gender swaps for Caliban, Ariel, Antonio and Sebastian and the considerations of what happens on a remote island under a sorcerer’s rule become even more interesting. Lazarus Theatre Company specialises in re-imagining classic texts for contemporary audiences. Its playing about with gender is just one of the ways that the ensemble and adapter/director Ricky Dukes, who is also Lazarus’ artistic director, has done so here.
For last night’s discussion, to talk gender, sexuality Shakespeare, patriarchy, learning verse, design feats and how Lazarus has revitalised the playgoing scene in Greenwich – with some very fulsome praise from a local audience member – I was joined by Ricky Dukes and the full 11-strong cast of The Tempest: Micha Colombo (Prospero), Alexander Da Fonseca (Miranda), Abigail Clay (Ariel), Georgina Barley (Caliban), Nikolas Salmon (Alonzo), Peace Oseyenum (Antonio), Aaron Peters (Ferdinand), Conor Hadfield (Gonzalo), David Clayton (Trinculo), James Alston (Stephano) and Eleanor Hardy (Sebastian).
The Tempest is the first of Lazarus’ 2019 Greenwich Theatre season, which continues with its thematic exploration of gender and identity with a revival of its acclaimed co-ed adaptation of William Golding‘s Lord of the Flies in March and a salacious new staging of Oscar Wilde‘s Salome. I’ll be back with post-show Q&As for both of these too. In the meantime, please watch and share!
— Terri Paddock (@TerriPaddock) February 12, 2019
Event photography by Peter Jones.