“Hello weather angels! Please clear the rain for the next three hours…”

Positive believing definitely has its merits, as evident in how the audience at the preview night (1 May) of Shakespeare in the Park – The Tempest managed to will away drizzling clouds mere minutes before the start of the show. Little did they know, casting away the rain was just an appetiser to the magic about to unfold on stage before their very eyes.

Photo: Singapore Repertory Theatre

A highly anticipated annual event in Singapore’s cultural calendar with lavish sets by an impressive creative team and seasoned cast, Singapore Repertory Theatre’s annual picnic-styled Shakespeare in the Park season returns for the ninth time to Fort Canning Park from April 29th – May 24th 2015.

Photo: Singapore Repertory Theatre

This year’s stunning production of The Tempest will be the grandest to date. Not only does The Tempest boast of having the tallest stage set ever built in Singapore, it also happens to be one of Shakespeare’s most significant plays.

Photo: Sheryl Teo for Popspoken

Scholars believe that The Tempest was the last play written in Shakespeare’s career (contested with The Winter’s Tale). The Tempest is filled throughout with references to some of his most significant works, such as Romeo & Juliet and Othello, evident in the portrayal of series of events in The Tempest.

Critics argue that the wizard in The Tempest, Prospero (played by Simon Robson), is a symbolic representation of Shakespeare himself. Throughout the play, Prospero uses his skills as a magician to control events and characters in the play, akin to Shakespeare as a skillful playwright determining the fate of his various fictional characters.

Prospero’s entrance. Photo: Sheryl Teo for Popspoken

But release me from my bands
With the help of your good hands:
Gentle breath of yours my sails
Must fill, or else my project fails,
Which was to please. – Act V Scene I, The Tempest

In the very last lines of The Tempest, Prospero says that now that he’s retired from a lifetime of performing magic, the only thing that can free him and send him home is the audience’s approval and loud applause. This final speech is almost like Shakespeare’s way of saying goodbye to theatre. Soon after The Tempest was completed around 1611, Shakespeare left London and retired to Stratford.

The cast. Photo: Sheryl Teo for Popspoken

The significance of The Tempest does not stop here. Apart from the hearty content of the play, Singapore Repertory Theatre carefully assembled an impressive creative team and cast from around the world to maintain the integrity of Shakespeare’s most promising play. They include Simon Higlett (Production Designer), Gabriel Chan (Lighting Designer), Tayo Akinbode (Composer) and Mike Walker (Sound Designer). The cast features some of the finest actors in the theatre scene, namely Simon Robson as Prospero, Julie Wee as Miranda and Tim Wan as Ferdinand.

Fashion enthusiasts, this might interest you: Costume designs this year are inspired by spiritual and ethnic Asian cultures and religions, making the play visually pertinent to the South East Asian audience. Talk about Shakespeare being intercultural!

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Initial costume sketches by Simon Higlett

Shakespeare In The Park – The Tempest effectively summarises the recurring themes in Shakespeare’s legendary works into one holistic, thoroughly enjoyable production. Come and experience for yourself the magic of Shakespeare’s final play, and the timeless reception of his works internationally.

TICKET INFORMATION
Dates: Friday 1st May through Sunday 24th May 2015
Prices: From $45 (student and group concessions available)
Ticketing: SISTIC at 6348 5555 or www.sistic.com.sg

Special Thanks: Singapore Repertory Theatre
Cover Photo: SRT Facebook