based on the works of William Shakespeare
adapted & directed by Irina Brook
with the Éclaireurs [Kevin Ferdjani, Marjory Gesbert, Issam Kadichi, Irène Reva], Renato Giuliani lighting Alexandre Toscani sound Guillaume Pomares costumes Magali Castellan, Aurore Lane stage assistant Tess Tracy a production Théâtre National de Nice - CDN Nice Côte d’Azur coproduction Passionnément TNN
Audio description available on Saturday 27 January at 8.30pm
With her creative flair and infectious joy, Irina Brook revisits Shakespeare’s The Tempest – her version is young and vibrant, tailored for her troupe (Les Eclaireurs) and the actor Renato Giuliani.
The instant the play begins, there is a heightened sense of rebellion on the desert island where the sorcerer Prospero has been exiled for twenty years. The subjects of this tiny kingdom are on the verge of Revolution, in spite of the joyful Italian music and the magic tricks that play around them. Prospero’s daughter, the young Miranda, is bored to death and spends her time romanticizing about Love. Caliban, the island’s monster and Prospero’s slave, can no longer stand the harsh treatment of the spiteful gnomes sent to taunt him by his master. Ariel, a spirit of the Air and devoted servant, restlessly awaits the end of his contract. Everybody is dreaming of Freedom. Prospero is dreaming of Revenge. But it is Forgiveness that ultimately transforms this little world. In the end, we are deeply moved, carried by the melody of a mandolin and swathed in an atmosphere worthy of an Italian movie.
Interview Irina BrookInterviewed by Caroline Audibert
“The last of Shakespeare’s plays holds secrets that help us to understand the very essence of our humanity…”
Why did you choose to give the play an Italian setting and look?When I staged the play for the very first time in 2010, Renato Giuliani, an actor who is passionate about magic potions and cooking, stood out as Prospero. I looked for parallels with our own reality to give clarity to the story. Prospero’s kingdom becomes a big Neapolitan restaurant. I pictured in my mind a kitchen right on the sea with two Italian waiters smoking cigarettes on the beach; Miranda, wearing dark glasses like a movie star. It was then that I came across some sublime mandolin scores from the Italian lounge era of the 1950s…. Images of Fellini ran through my head, which was not surprising as Italy is so very present in Shakespeare. Romeo & Juliet takes place in Verona, The Tempest evokes Naples and Milan…..
You have directed this play several time since 2010 – by revisiting Tempest, what do you feel you have to say today?The first time I put on this show, it was the father-daughter relationship that fascinated me. Seven years on, it’s the imbalance triggered by power that captivates me. Prospero is a tyrant who wants to control everything using his magical powers. His daughter, servants and even Nature are at his mercy. He is driven by an insatiate desire for vengeance against his brother who betrayed him by stealing his kingdom. When the enemy’s son is shipwrecked on the island, Prospero must choose between revenge and reconciliation. This is the tipping point, when the play plunges into the depths of the soul. Not only must he forgive but he must also cede his right to control everything around him: he must finally admit to his fragility, to let go and simply accept being human.
This is the last of Shakespeare’s works….A good deal has been written about the ending – Prospero’s lines were to be Shakespeare’s adieu to the stage. The final words are full of mystery. They speak of immortality, metaphysics.. We can sense that they hold secrets that help us to understand the very essence of our humanity: “We are such stuff as dreams are made on..” These nine words quicken a silence within us and with it, comes an inexplicable emotion that throws everything around us into disarray. Such is the genius of Shakespeare!
This play connects me to my father on an intimate artistic level. For years, we have had endless conversations about the essence of the play. The Tempest can be perceived on every level, from pure entertainment to the deepest depths of spirituality. There are fairies, monsters, magicians, lovers, people exiled to a desert island…we are in the realm of fairytales. But when we lend a different ear to the play, listen with another heart; we discover an unrivalled spirituality and intensity. Rather like the sea, we never really fathom the depth of this work.