‘Tempest’ Storms the Mainstage

Shayan Rajani

Whitehall Palace. The Royal Shakespeare Company. Broadway. And now, the Loeb Mainstage.

Tonight, at 8 p.m., the curtain will go up on William Shakespeare’s “The Tempest.” This integrative presentation of Shakespeare’s classic is one of the most ambitious performances put on by the Harvard-Radcliffe Dramatic Club in recent history. Incorporating dance as well as a full orchestra, the creators behind “The Tempest” are hoping to take the Mainstage by storm.

Director Robert D. Salas ’08 first became interested in the directing an integrative theater performance last April.

“My initial desire was to collaborate between music, dance, theater–but not to perform a musical,” he says. “‘The Tempest’ is a production that works in a big space, which is why I was initially interested.

“I think the really cool thing about theater is that it can be a merging of art form,” he adds. “Any time that happens you can get a different effect and it becomes more of a spectacle, especially when all three art forms are dedicated to the message of the script.”

Riding the wave of success from last year’s mainstage collaboration of theater and dance, “American Grace,” choreographer and director Sarah C. Kenney ’08 was eager to incorporate dance into the performance.

“We wanted to emphasize the magical aspect of the island and the music and dance achieves that,” she says. “The audience can see the spirits that are dancing, hear the music, but the actors can’t necessarily have access to that field of vision during the play. It adds another field of dimension.”

Music Director Julia S. Carey ’08 chose Finnish composer Jean Sibelius’ music for “The Tempest” for this production. Just as “The Tempest” was Shakespeare’s final play, this was Sibelius’s last major work.

“At this point in his life, Sibelius was at his most mature stage as a composer, both harmonically and dramatically,” she says. “The music is varied and evocative, highlighting the different moods and themes in the play.”

“Part of what excited Rob, Sarah, and me about this project was that we felt like, by including dance and music in our production, we would be able to realize the different artistic dimensions that are already present in Shakespeare’s poetry,” Carey says.

Careful planning was essential for such a multi-faceted production to come to life, according to Salas.

“The specifics of what we’re combining and collaborating was decided early on. There’s a lot of trust involved,” he says.

Salas says his interest in direction stems from his experience as an actor early on at Harvard.

“I made the switch because I enjoy the process of working with actors and putting actors first,” he says. “That’s my style of directing, helping actors deliver a really compelling performance, rather than pushing a vision.”

“The Tempest” is Kenney’s first time participating in such a highly collaborative production. “I view it as the next step in my development,” she says. “Directing is a whole new dimension. It’s fulfilling, the whole process.”

Jason M. Lazarcheck ’08 plays the lead role of the sorcerer Prospero. A self-professed Shakespeare fan, he looks forward to presenting “The Tempest” to the Harvard community.

“I’ve never been involved in anything quite like this,” he says. “Having separate entities of music and dance and acting onstage at the same time creates a spectacle that is really unique.”

“It’s the kind of play that has something for everyone,” Lazarcheck emphasizes. “It’s going to be a really fun few hours for the audience, to be able to see beautiful dance and hear beautiful music and watch a really beautiful performance all at once.”

“The Tempest” runs Friday, Nov. 9 to Saturday, Nov. 17. Tickets are $12 for students and $8 for Seniors, and are available from the Loeb Box Office or the Harvard Box Office.