Shakespeare under the big top

A theater review: ‘The Tempest’

Prospero (Richard J. Kemp) gives his daughter Miranda (Shannon McCarren) a rough time for her infatuation with Ferdinand (Kenneth Singleton) while two spirits observe -- aerialists Stephanie Clark (right) and Contessa Beth Hinderliter. Waller Hall, Aug. 28. Photo by IUP communications media student Christopher Juegel.

Prospero (Richard J. Kemp) gives his daughter Miranda (Shannon McCarren) a rough time for her infatuation with Ferdinand (Kenneth Singleton) while two spirits observe — aerialists Stephanie Clark (right) and Contessa Beth Hinderliter. Waller Hall, Aug. 28. Photo by IUP communications media student Christopher Juegel.

By Ethan C. Brogan

INDIANA — On the Waller Hall main stage Thursday night, the cast of Dr. Rick’s Traveling Shakespeare Show shook the foundation of The Bard’s “The Tempest” with an unusual adaptation set in a 1930s-era circus. IUP acting and directing professor Dr. Richard J. Kemp  creates an ambiance that grabs the attention of the audience and keeps them entranced for the entire performance.

Brian R. Jones, chair of IUP’s Department of Theater and Dance and designer of the show’s sets and lights, said re-doing Shakespeare while remaining true to the original 17th-century script took teamwork.

“Working with professionals, alumni and students together with a creative idea like this was a challenge,” Jones said following Thursday night’s performance.

IUP students Kenneth I. Singleton and Shannon L. McCarren put on wonderful performances working alongside professional actors such as IUP Dean of the College of Fine Arts Dr. Michael J. Hood and University of Pittsburgh Department of Theater Arts chair Bruce McConachie.

One of the most intricate and visually spectacular elements of the show is the use of aerialists to accent scenes using ribbons suspended from the ceiling. IUP students Stephanie N. Soracco and Lisa M. Schneider and IUP music professor Dr. Laura S. Ferguson all performed as aerialists under the tutelage of IUP alumnus and aerial training choreographer Contessa Beth Hinderliter.

The full-house audience reacted with gasps of amazement during the high-flying aerialist scenes. And laughter punctuated the performance’s generally light-hearted atmosphere.

This fresh take on a Shakespearean classic combined with a circus show make the performance a delight and a must-see in Indiana.

Performances of Rick Kemp’s “The Tempest”  are scheduled for Aug. 29-31 and Sept. 4-7, with evening shows and two matinees at the Waller Hall Mainstage. The performance is sponsored by The Lively Arts, a program presented by the IUP College of Fine Arts.

Ethan C. Brogan is a journalism major at Indiana University of Pennsylvania

 

 

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