The Tempest blows in to Reading School
June 29, 2012
A band of actors will be shipwrecked in Reading next week with a former television detective at the helm.
GB Theatre is bringing its international tour of Shakespeare’s The Tempest to Reading School, directed by Wycliffe star Jack Shepherd.
The company will also perform Shakespeare’s popular comedy The Taming of The Shrew, directed by Jenny Stephens who also directs BBC Radio 4’s The Archers.
Jack, who hung up his detective suit in 1998, spoke to 24Seven a few days after returning from Norway, where the plays have gone down a storm.
“The interesting thing about Norway is that the location we perform in is owned by Petter Olsen, the man who sold Edvard Munch’s The Scream for millions to develop the centre,” said Jack.
“It has an amphitheatre and a lake, so we decided to do the beginning of the play as a promenade. The first scene is a tempest on the sea so we set it on the lake and that worked very well.
“But a lot of it hinges on the weather.”
With both plays being performed outdoors GB Theatre is hoping for sunshine when the company arrives in Reading on Monday.
“The theatre has a canopy so it could be done in the theatre but it would have meant we couldn’t do the promenade like we did,” says Jack.
Having directed numerous plays at The Globe, Jack is well versed in Shakespeare but with ethereal characters and hallucinations The Tempest can be more challenging than most.
“With the Tempest you can be as wild as you like but there’s not a scene in it which does not carry some sort of hallucination or vision and what we want the audience to experience as they watch it is the feeling that their own visual senses are being challenged by it,” he says.
“The play is quite straight forward but Propsero is not like any other Prince of Italy because he has a monster chained up in the garden and spirit wandering around.
“It’s like you’re in the middle of a William Blake painting,” he adds. “It’s quite remarkable from that point of view.”
For the play the grounds of Reading School will become a remote island where the exiled Duke of Milan plots to restore his daughter Miranda to her rightful place.
“We’re doing it in tandem with the Taming of the Shrew,” says Jack.
“You get this wild comedy with the Taming of the Shrew and an interesting visual experience with The Tempest.
“But the Tempest is very funny in parts too, it doesn’t take itself too seriously."
In The Taming of the Shrew Petruchio, a gentleman of Verona, tries to court Katherine, the headstrong shrew, while various suitors compete to marry her desirable sister Bianca.
There will be two performances of The Taming of the Shrew on Monday and Wednesday with the Tempest making a splash in between.
The Tempest and The Taming of the Shrew will be performed from Monday to Wednesday at Reading School in Erleigh Road.
Tickets are £17 for adults and £8 for under-16s and OAPs. Warm clothing is advised. Visit www.gbtheatrecompany.com.