A play stemming from research on 'The Tempest' by William Shakespeare
Peter Brook / Marie-Hélène Estienne
Teatre Lliure Montjuïc - Sala Fabià Puigserver 02/07 - 04/07
Written in 1612, The Tempest is one of the last works written by Shakespeare, the story of Prospero, the Duke of Milan forced out of his dukedom by an ambitious brother. Taking refuge on an island, accompanied by his daughter Miranda and thanks to the power of Ariel, a spirit who works in his service, he takes revenge on his brother by causing him to be shipwrecked. But, beyond the plot, as Peter Brooks says, there is perhaps a lot more in Shakespeare’s words, meanings we failed to grasp in the first reading. Seeking these meanings is a director used to working with actors from diverse backgrounds and someone who has been his collaborator ever since his legendary Mahabharata, Marie-Hélène Estienne. Here the central figure of Prospero is an actor trained in the tradition of British theatre, but of African origins, Ery Nzaramba, a choice that is no coincidence. And that is because, while western actors are sufficiently versed in elements as present in Shakespearian creations as physical and political violence, rage, sex and introspection, it may be difficult for them to make a natural exploration of a hidden and spiritual world such as the one that appears in The Tempest, which proves alien to them. Other cultures coexist with the notion of gods, magic and witchcraft, but not European culture, which is why, maybe, in Brook’s opinion at least, the role of Prospero turns out to be less forced in an actor born in an environment where the invisible world is a more real and natural presence. At the hands of Ery Nzaramba and the rest of the actors, we discover a play which gradually reveals its secrets and meanings as it progresses, with the idea of freedom present throughout. Prospero, the primitive Caliban at his service, embodying the notion of the 16th century’s incipient colonialism, the spirit Ariel... they are all looking for their freedom in this production, even if that concept has a different meaning for each.
This marks Peter Brook's return to the Grec Festival, a director with a long-standing connection to the city: in fact, his production of La tragèdia de Carmen in 1983 marked the conversion of the Mercat de les Flors into a performance venue. The last time he paid a visit to the venue was in 2011 with a streamlined and minimalist version of Mozart's Opera, The Magic Flue (Une flûte enchantée). In 2019, he received the Princess of Asturias Award for the Arts. It was yet another distinction in recognition of the career of one of the great modernisers of 20th-century European theatre. Born to Russian immigrants, he started his career in the UK but moved to Paris in the 1970s, where he founded the Centre International de Créations Théâtrales at the Théâtre des Bouffes du Nord.
This show stems from a workshop given in February 2020 at Théâtre des Bouffes du Nord where, for a fortnight, insisting on Shakespeare’s spoken word in his original language, Peter Brook and Marie-Hélène Estienne conducted a research project around The Tempest, joined by a small group of actors: Hiran Abeysekera, Yohanna Fuchs, Dilum Buddhika, Maïa Jemmett, Marcello Magni, Ery Nzaramba, Kalieaswari Srinivasan. After a new period of rehearsals, the show was created on April, 2021 at Théâtre Gérard Philipe, centre dramatique national de Saint-Denis.
A co-production from the C.I.C.T. - Théâtre des Bouffes du Nord; Théâtre Gérard Philipe, centre dramatique national de Saint-Denis; Scène nationale Carré-Colonnes Bordeaux Métropole ; Le Théâtre de Saint-Quentin-en-Yvelines – Scène Nationale ; Le Carreau - Scène nationale de Forbach et de l’Est mosellan.
The text Tempest project, adapted by Peter Brook and Marie-Hélène Estienne from Jean-Claude Carrière's French version of The Tempest by William Shakespeare, was published in November 2020 by Actes Sud-Papiers.
Adaptation and stage direction: Peter Brook, Marie-Hélène Estienne Lighting design: Philippe Vialatte Performed by: Sylvain Levitte, Paula Luna, Marcello Magni, Fabio Maniglio, Luca Maniglio, Ery Nzaramba Translation: Elisabeth Ibars
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