"Be not afeared"; Town Point Park will be full of "noises, sounds, and sweet airs, that give delight and hurt not" when Norfolk Festevents and Virginia Stage Company (VSC) present Shakespeare's last known play, The Tempest, July 26 through July 28, 2013.
Presented along the banks of the Elizabeth River in downtown Norfolk, The Tempest will be the central attraction of a "Mid Summer's Fantasy Festival" an annual series of major outdoor theatre productions featuring a different work by Shakespeare each year.
A fantastical combination of comedy and drama, The Tempest, will come to life through the use of large-scale puppetry created by VSC with Donovan Zimmerman, co-founder of the Paperhand Puppet Intervention, and music composed by Jake Hull. Zimmerman is in Norfolk this week creating his puppets in the Design Center at VSC. Hull, a self-described "radiant passer-by," has shared festival stages with Amos Lee, Neko Case, and Chris Thile as a member of folk-rock/world-beat trio Momentary Prophets. He just released his first solo project, an EP of expansive folk: The Fool.
Brimming with romance and magic, monsters and fairies, conflict and concord, and a healthy dose of redemption, this spectacular interpretation ofThe Tempest can best be described as "Shakespeare meets Harry Potter," according to VSC Associate Artistic Director Patrick Mullins. Mullins is directing the production of The Tempest.
The Tempest is the story of Prospero, the rightful Duke of Milan, and his daughter, Miranda, both banished to a remote island by Prospero's nefarious brother, Antonio, and his partner in crime, King Alonso of Naples. Aided by a magic fairy, Ariel, Prospero conjures up a storm that shipwrecks the vessel carrying amongst others his brother, the King, a jester and the King's son with whom Miranda falls in love. Through illusion and skillful manipulation, Prospero restores his title and helps free a fairy, a monster and the soul of a redemptive King.
The current plan for the production includes three "humans," Prospero, Miranda and Ferdinand (the Prince who becomes Miranda's suitor). The other characters in the show (the King, the Duke, the villains, and the clowns) will be represented by oversized masked characters. Caliban (the misinformed monster) and Ariel, the most magical creatures on the island, will be portrayed by large-scale puppets.
The "wedding" on the island will feature a large pageant-style parade of characters that celebrates the human life cycle.
Organizers are currently seeking community groups that are interested in participating.
Those attending the nightly performances of The Tempest in Town Point Park will also enjoy two hours of mirth and merriment prior to the show. A Mid Summer's Fantasy Festival will be replete with a variety of unique entertainment, children's activities, and an Elizabethan Pub and Dining Hall with craft brews, mead and cider, plus a menu for purchase featuring turkey legs, meat pies, sausages, bangers and mash and other Elizabethan style treats; add in a sprinkling of wizards, magicians, dance circles and mischievous fairies and you'll be transported to "a brave new world."
The park will open at 6pm Friday and Saturday and 4 pm Sunday, with the performance of The Tempest at 8:30pm Friday and Saturday, and 6:30 pm Sunday.
Commenting on the new partnership between Virginia Stage Company and Norfolk Festevents, Karen Scherberger, Festevents CEO, said, "Outdoor theatre on our waterfront has been on our drawing board for quite some time. We are honored and excited to partner with Virginia Stage Company on this project that will bring a level of performance to the waterfront, the likes of which we have not experienced before."
Added Scherberger, "To borrow from the Bard, this event promises to be 'such stuff as dreams are made on'."
The Tempest and A Mid Summer's Fantasy Festival takes place at Town Point Park, Norfolk, July 26-28, 2013, Friday and Saturday: Park opens at 6pm. Showtime: 8:30 pm; Park Opens 4pm. Showtime 4:30 pm.