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Audi­tions for “Shake­speare in the Arb” took place Nov. 5 – 6  with more than 30 stu­dents trying out for a spot in “The Tempest.” The directors, senior Alex Tiren and junior Audrey Gray, are pleased with the cast they chose.

Senior Daniel Spiotta was picked for the lead role of Prospero, a magician who is exiled with his infant daughter to an island. Most of the play takes place years later, when his daughter Miranda (sophomore Maran McLeod), is grown up. By that time, Prospero is the master of a fairy named Ariel (senior Rachel Kalthoff) and a grotesque creature named Caliban (freshman Catherine Coffey). The plot involves Prospero raising a tempest to ship­wreck his enemies on the island to take his vengeance on them. Among them is a young man named Fer­dinand (freshman Nick Gibbs), who falls in love with Miranda.

Tiren said what he pri­marily hopes to express to the audience is Shakespeare’s treatment of Prospero’s char­acter.

“I’m excited about exploring the char­acter of Prospero: his journey into the nature of humanity and his reentry into com­munity,” he said.

Spiotta, who has written a 20-page paper on the play, is looking forward to por­traying Prospero.

“The focus of my paper was the study of Prov­i­dence in ‘The Tempest,’” he said. “And I think that Prospero is an extremely inter­esting char­acter to look into as far as Prov­i­dence is con­cerned, and how he’s an agent of super­natural grace — also an agent of preter­natural grace.”

Gray is excited to have Spiotta on the team.

“When Daniel came on and read, he just was Prospero. It was perfect,” she said, adding that because he under­stands Shake­speare so well, he was able to put exactly the right feeling into the lines.

Tiren agreed, but Spiotta himself was more skep­tical.

“I’m not a good actor,” he said. “But Alex knew that when he asked me to be Prospero, so it’s his fault.”

McLeod, who will play Miranda, said she’s never had such a prominent role before, but she’s excited about the chal­lenge of exploring the father/daughter rela­tionship as well as the romantic side of her role.

“I like the idea of Miranda being someone who is in the dark a little bit about her past and yet she is intel­ligent and she’s com­pas­sionate and inquis­itive,” she said.

Gibbs, who will play opposite McLeod, has never acted before but said he’s excited about his role.

“It’s going to be really fun trying to act out romance,” he said. “It’s going to be a learning expe­rience.”

He also said he is curious to see how they will show the storm in the Arb.

Spiotta echoed his sen­timent.

“There are no special effects,” he said. “So it will be inter­esting to see how we work that through, because it’s called ‘The Tempest’ for a reason.”

Spiotta, who played Oberon in “A Mid­summer Night’s Dream” last year, is also excited about the prospect of once again working with a “sidekick” char­acter similar to Puck.

“It’s always fun to have kind of a little spir­itual imp to work with,” he said.

Tiren and Gray both said they were looking forward to working together as directors. The directors for each year are chosen by the pre­vious directors.Tiren and Gray said their indi­vidual the­atrical talents com­plement each other.

“She has a lot of expe­rience with the pro­duction side of things,” Tiren said. “I have more expe­rience with the acting side of things. So we bring together those two aspects of theatre.”

“Working with Tiren on this pro­duction has already been inter­esting, par­tially because he has a dif­ferent per­spective on theatre from my own,” Gray said. “He’s an English major with a passion for Shake­speare and tends to pick out and show me aspects of the char­acters and script that I hadn’t noticed.”

Tiren said he chose “The Tempest” because for his last play at Hillsdale, he wanted some­thing with more depth than most of Shakespeare’s comedies.

“I think [Shake­speare] has more to say philo­soph­i­cally in ‘The Tempest’ than in most of his comedies,” Tiren said. “It def­i­nitely comes with a lot of laughs but there’s also some great drama [and] some really deep char­acters as well.”

For Tiren, one reason this play is sig­nif­icant is that in addition to being his last college play, it was also the last play Shake­speare wrote.

“At the end of the play Prospero throws down his magic staff. That’s Shake­speare putting down his pen in the same way. He’s almost written himself into the char­acter,” Tiren said.

The play will be per­formed in the Arb on April 20 and 21.

 

dslonim@hillsdale.edu